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Indecorous

Chapter Text

refill Sherlock's Rx
refill Sherlock's Rx
Sherlock, stop crossing it off, you need it

refill Sherlock's Rx
heating pads
tea
bread
rice
dairy milk bars
plasters

*

John woke up (abruptly, completely) to Sherlock turning on the light in his bedroom. No light filtering through the muslin curtains. Still night. "No," John said, turning over and pulling the blanket over his head. "It can wait." His ribs still ached. He needed some rest, and Sherlock did too.

"I came to a conclusion," Sherlock said. He sat on the side of the bed. John felt his weight pin the blanket to his hip, then a second, small weight by his shoulder. Sherlock's hand.

"Mm," John said.

"Sex is clearly necessary for you, though I don't know why."

"Mm."

"So I can--do that. I can perform that office for you."

John snorted.

"So--yes?" Sherlock touched his hip through the covers. Warm. Tentative. Wrong.

John yanked the blanket down from his face. "Absolutely not. Rather wank myself to death."

"Oh." Sherlock sounded miffed. "I have watched pornography. I'm reasonably certain I can master those skills," he said as he slid into bed and embraced John through the blanket from behind.

"Bitchy, unenthusiastic fucking. My lucky day. Go to bed, Sherlock."

Sherlock sighed into his hair. He hugged John's shoulder and threw a leg over his. He still had his shoes on, the inconsiderate arse.

"Sherlock," John repeated.

"You're very comfortable."

"No."

"I like touching you."

John gave up. "Fine. Shoes off, lights out, hands outside the blankets, and shut the HELL up until at least eight AM."

"Agreed," Sherlock said, and got out of bed to turn the light out.

"And stop hiding your iron supplements. You need them."

"They're horrible and pointless," Sherlock said. He nestled around John, shoes off.

"You're injured. You sleep half the day. You need them. Take them properly or I'll make you take them."

"You can't possibly make me," Sherlock said into John's hair.

"I know how to force feed a person, Sherlock."

"Mm. Are you threatening me with violence?"

"For your own good."

"How considerate," Sherlock said, already fading into sleep. John covered Sherlock's hand with his and pulled him a little further into his warmth.

*

To do (Sherlock):
Biological waste disposal
Shelve your damn books yourself or I'll do it and you won't like it
Stop whinging

To do (John):
Buy ammunition
Hoover

*

They wound up in a sex shop ("Behind Closed Doors: Shop For Your Secrets") because of a case, but then Sherlock started browsing for real. "Now is not the time to hit puberty," John said.

Sherlock smiled. "This is nice," he said, drawing the soft rubber flogger across his inner arm, over and over.

"If you get a hard-on we're going to get kicked out," John warned him.

"I'm not." But he continued brushing the strands of rubber over his arm. John took it out of his hand and dropped it into the shopping basket.

"Oh, I'm sorry, sir, that's our floor model," the attendant said. She walked over and pulled a cardboard box from the shelf. "Here you are."

"No, the colour isn't as nice," Sherlock said. "I like the navy."

"Sorry," John said, trading boxes.

"Not at all. Can't have the wrong colour. Can I help you find anything else?"

"Actually, we came in here to look at glass dildos. My friend just got distracted." Sherlock, proving John's point, was now staring at the wall of leather. Cheap plastic and rubber on the shelves, proper leather whips on the wall, splayed out in blatant invitation.

She smiled. Tai, said her name tag. Probably not her real name. She had a pointed, foxy face, more striking than pretty, heavy eye makeup, and red-pink hair as bright as a traffic cone. "That happens," she said. "This way. We keep them in a case to avoid breakage."

They left Sherlock fingering a suede leather whip. "Are you together?" Tai asked.

John was pleasantly shocked. "You're the first person to actually ask. Everyone else just assumes. No, we're not."

"You get a pretty good idea of who's a couple and who's not in this job. If you were together, he'd have tried that flogger on you," she said. "So he's shopping for himself, and you're not involved. Right?"

"Well deduced. We're flatmates. I'm actually straight."

"But not narrow," Tai grinned.

John grinned back. "How about those dildos?"

They came in Pyrex, as it turned out, in a dazzling array of colors and shapes. "We can special order navy blue," Tai said, winking.

"Actually, we're trying to match something specific... Sherlock!" John yelled.

"Busy!"

"Oh for--" John marched back over. "I'm doing your job. When do I get paid?" He fished the plastic-bagged chunk of glass out of Sherlock's pocket as Sherlock stared, transfixed, at a wire-wrapped cat o' nine tails. For decoration only, the label said. It looked vicious.

He returned to the case of dildos. "I thought this might match," he told Tai. It was a cylindrical chunk of glass in an iridescent pink. "Seemed plausible. We think the victim was hit over the head with the rest of this."

"You're police?" Tai looked from John to Sherlock.

"Private firm. The victim's lover wanted a second opinion." And found them via John's blog; take that, Sherlock.

"Wow. Yeah, that could be. Do you have the diameter?"

"Two centimeters exactly on one end, two point one three on the other."

"Sounds plausible. Let me check the catalog for the colour," Tai said.

"Fantastic," John said. "Thank you." He examined the display with an eye for comparison.

Sherlock leaned over his shoulder, hip against his hip. "Finished beating yourself up?" John asked.

"Is that meant to be a pun? Yes, you're clearly right about the dildo," Sherlock said. "I thought they would be more like drinking glasses. Wouldn't a man use a smaller size, though?"

John shook his head and picked up The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men from a stand by the display. It looked like precisely what Sherlock needed.

Sherlock looked at the shopping basket doubtfully. "For your reference library," John said. Sherlock gave him a raised eyebrow, but didn't remove the book.

"Our new friend Tai is entirely non-judgmental," John said, loudly enough that she could hear.

"We're in favor of any kind of sex you want to have, loves; we just draw the line at animals and children, though we do have blow-up sheep," Tai said.

"Ah. Comedy," Sherlock muttered.

"No sheep for me, thanks. Women suit me fine." John grinned at her.

Tai smiled and nodded them back over to the counter. "I think I found a match. I looked for pink, and here." She turned the monitor around. It showed a knobbly, wavy, pink glass dildo with a loop on the end for ease of use. "We have one in back. I'll get it."

"And the wire-wrapped cat, please," Sherlock said. Tai nodded and disappeared into the curtained back room.

John looked at Sherlock. "What?" Sherlock asked.

"Nothing. It's good that you know what you want."

"Yes, thank you, I do."

"Here we are," Tai said, returning with the boxed dildo and the coiled whip. "This can draw blood, so be careful."

"Clearly," Sherlock said. He put down his card and paid for the whole order.

"Let me know how it turns out. I've never been part of a murder investigation before," Tai said to John.

"Oh, well." John scribbled his number on the back of the store's business card. "Any time. This one keeps me up all hours."

"See, that's why people think you're a couple," Tai said, grinning.

"John! Clock is ticking!" Sherlock shouted.

They went to the supermarket yet and bought coconuts, which they then hit with the dildo to prove it was a viable murder weapon. It was bloody good fun.

And Tai called, that very night, after her shift.

*

John made a lunch date with Tai and carefully told Sherlock nothing about it, not even that she had called. That night he dreamed that the coconut broke open and bright blood with clumps of brain slid out. He picked it up in his hands--it smelled of fresh, green, oily nut--but it was too late, the light had gone out of the coconut's three hairy eyes.

It woke John up instantly when Sherlock touched the bed around two. "Morning," John said.

"Sexual jealousy," Sherlock said. He slid under the covers.

"Yes, that's definitely what you have." John noted that Sherlock was obeying the rules, though, insofar as he had his shoes off and his hands above the covers. Unfortunately, there wasn't a force on Earth that would make Sherlock shut up.

"No, that's what I don't have. I would understand it much more easily if I did." Sherlock drew John closer, burrowing his nose into John's hair, his arm snugly into the dips of John's torso, his knee over John's knee.

"You have jealousy down pat. Wanting every inch of someone, needing all their time, not able to let them have another moment with another person? You ran Sarah off like a thief."

Sherlock's arm tightened. Sherlock didn't have to say it again: She was a thief, stealing John away--except, of course, that John wasn't a possession, and he'd gone to her on his own two feet, and he didn't need to say that either; they had the whole argument in one touch and the responding breath.

"Sexual jealousy inspires half of all crimes, easily. I can see it, but not feel it. I'm trying to decide..."

"Sherlock. Shut up."

Sherlock huffed through his nose. Amazingly, though, he did shut up, and merely stroked John's arm through the blanket. It was nice.

*

John left his phone and sneaked away while Sherlock was in the bath, but Sherlock had noticed his absence and tracked them down by the time John paid the bill. He was glowering outside in a taxi. "It was lovely, but--" He shrugged. "My master calls. I'll ring later, yeah?"

But Tai raised her eyebrows and stepped closer, hitching her enormous handbag up higher on her shoulder. "Well, what are you doing? Do you need help?"

"I don't know." John opened the car door. "Sherlock, what are we up to?"

Sherlock lurched over and grabbed John's wrist. "I need your brain! Come on!"

"Can I bring Tai or is it dangerous?" John clarified.

"Oh, Christ! Bring a brass band if you want." Sherlock let go. Safe, then. Sherlock would have said "dangerous" with relish if there was any peril to be had.

"How mad do you like your afternoons?" John asked Tai.

"Pretty mad," she said.

"Then let's go."

John sat in the middle. Annoyance rose off Sherlock like steam from a boiling pot. "So the dildo was the murder weapon," John told her.

"What?" the cabbie said, turning half around.

"Oh, sorry, movie plot," John said. "The things they think of in Hollywood, eh?"

"Right," the cabbie said.

John mimed zipping his lips shut to Tai. She grinned.

Once they reached Baker Street, Sherlock paid; John resumed. "The dildo was the murder weapon. We killed a few coconuts with it for proof."

"As you do," Tai said.

"So the issue now is means. How did the ex get into the house? I left Sherlock making a model."

"Eyes, I need eyes," Sherlock said.

"Well, now you have four! Funny how it works out."

Tai blinked a bit at the flat. Mess of books and papers, pink glass dildo sitting in in pride of place on the desk, lingering smell of coconuts. Well, if he was going to start bring embarrassed by the place he would never bring a woman home again.

The kitchen had been turned into a model. Sherlock had been at it all day, shoving the fridge and stove and tables around so it matched the layout of the murder flat. (They weren't allowed into the murder scene. Sherlock had pissed off the landlord before they even made it past the door.)

"You be the victim," Sherlock told John, picking up the dildo.

*

By dark, Sherlock had settled onto the sofa, staring out the window and muttering to himself. John sat on the stairs that led to the bedrooms, snogging Tai. "Bedroom up there?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"I would love to see your bedroom ceiling," she said.

"Oh, by all means." John hauled himself to his feet, mindful of the massive erection behind his zipper. Ow.

"John!" Sherlock barked.

"Yes?"

"I need you here."

"Okay." John waited for a moment. "For anything in particular?"

"I need you here, not upstairs."

Tai shrugged and sat down. John sighed and followed suit. "Honestly, this is fine by me," she said.

"Sorry." One more promising date ruined by the cockblocking power of Sherlock.

"No, I mean..." Tai slid her hand up his thigh. "I have a bit of an exhibitionist kink," she said with a sly smile. "If your friend wants to watch, that suits me very well."

John experienced a moment of vertigo as his mind spun 180 degrees. "Oh," he said.

"If you do."

"God yes," John said, though he had never considered it until that moment, had never done this, but his body said yes, yes, YES.

She grinned and pulled his thighs open. If he looked over--and he did--he could see Sherlock's dark head on the sofa. He had no idea if Sherlock was listening or if he was in a little world of his own.

Tai opened his trousers. "Bigger than I thought!" she said with delight. She fished a condom out of her handbag--striped, which made his cock look like a stick of Blackpool rock--slid it on and gave him a few good strokes with her hand that had him grasping the banister.

"Don't fall down the stairs," she said.

"Oh no, I'm just fine." John braced his foot on the floor and she dipped her head and fucking hell that was good. Of course she couldn't get his cockhead in her mouth, she had a small mouth, but her tongue was damn near prehensile. He thumped his head back against the wall.

"You sound like you're in pain," Sherlock observed.

John took a deep breath. He was sure his cock jumped against Tai's tongue. Didn't look at Sherlock. Felt the thick wallpaper under his fingertips, felt Tai's palm pressed into his thigh.

"All those instruments in the shop also caused pain; I understand the pathways are similar," Sherlock said.

John didn't look at him, he looked at Tai; she straightened up, wiping her mouth with one hand and still stroking him with the other. She smiled and slid closer, leaned over and kissed him, stroking his cock between them.

Licorice. The condom was flavoured as well. First class. Tai put her whole body into stroking him; bouncing tits against his chest, always welcome. Tongue kisses. Enthusiasm. She juggled his balls and that finished him. Too long chaste, too excited, no stamina, but no matter, he'd make it up to her.

John slid across the stair. "Requests?" he said, breathless.

"Love your hands," she said.

"Can do."

She wriggled her knickers out from under her skirt and used them to wrap up the used condom.

"What are you doing?" Sherlock asked. John glanced over, saw Sherlock leaning halfway over the sofa, glanced back immediately.

"Fucking," Tai said.

"How can you just do that?" Sherlock asked.

"Your friend is just that fit," Tai said. John grinned and kissed her.

His hands felt gritty. "Sorry, I should wash my hands," John said.

"Not going anywhere," Tai said. John levered himself up--his hands had been all over the dusty floor; maybe he should borrow some of Sherlock's latex gloves--and tugged his trousers up as he half-ran to the kitchen sink. He did grab a pair of Sherlock's gloves after washing his hands and held them up, raising his eyebrows to Tai on the way back.

"Prepared!" Tai said. John snapped them on and stroked Tai's thighs.

Tai took her shirt off. "Oh, hello, ladies," he said to her cleavage. He kissed the slope of her breast. She reached out and pulled on his shirt; John slipped out of it and tossed it on the floor. Tai's gaze slipped over the ugly scar on his shoulder, but she didn't say anything.

He knelt between her legs and slipped two fingers past her thighs and into her warm, friendly cunt.

She gasped. "Bold move, two fingers!"

"Feeling cheeky," he said. He kissed her, moving his hand slowly. He learned her anatomy with the tips of his fingers. She had a nice big clit, no mystery here. He could feel the roots right up inside her. He curled his fingers a little and gave it a rub.

"Mm," she said. "You know what you're doing."

"I like watching ladies come," he said, and she shivered and kissed him, and he moved his hand a little faster.

"Are you looking at me or him?" Tai said over John's shoulder.

"John," Sherlock replied. God, that sent lightning through his balls.

"Make him look at me," Tai said to John.

"All right." John started with a third finger and a thumb on her clit, which made her arch and yell in a very good way. Tai clung to his shoulders and rolled her hips against his hand. With his free hand, he unhooked her bra.

Tai laughed breathily. "You're going to be disappointed..." But she helped him slip it off, one strap at a time, and it was strangely heavy--ha! because the cups were full of silicone inserts. Her real breasts were tiny.

"I thought so!" Sherlock exclaimed. He was closer than the sofa. John still didn't look. He was busy.

"Disappointed? Never," John said. He mouthed her chest, from nipple to nipple, each breast no more than a delicious mouthful, then licked the same path with broad strokes of his tongue. He twisted his hand in her cunt as she rocked and bounced against him. His wrist hurt. Worth it.

"Slow down, slow down, I don't want to come yet," Tai said. She leaned back against the steps and caught her breath. John stopped rubbing her clit and just rested, twisting his hand gently. "Okay. Okay." She beamed over his shoulder.

John looked. Sherlock was crouching in the doorway like Gollum, knees bent to either side, hands in front of his curled, naked toes, watching them with all his enormous attention. John swallowed and the world seemed to snap into higher colour.

The woman in front of him, soft muscle around his hand, heavy smell, slight curves leading up to her sharp face and bright, engaged eyes. A real person, with a real life, unlike Sherlock. "I have to say I'm enjoying the fuck out of this," Tai said. She sat up again and held onto John's shoulders. "Okay, go, go!"

John slipped in his fourth finger so he didn't break it on her pelvic bone and she let out a hoarse, growling noise. Now his hand slipped in to the base of his thumb and he could feel her muscles squeezing his bones. She narrowed her eyes and clamped down on his hand, hard, so it would hurt if it weren't so brilliant, and then she let go with a gasp and back-arching shimmy. She was still wearing her skirt, though it was curled up and twisted around itself at the waistband. John's jeans were slipping down his arse again, though his boxers were staying.

Tai hauled herself higher, shoving her nipple in his mouth, and who was he to argue? "Getting there! Almost," she said, and she was shoving herself up against him, rubbing her body on his chest. He bit softly and she cried out in a way that seemed good. Then she reached down and rubbed her clit hard, much harder than he would have ventured, and came, her thighs shaking, groaning in his ear, and squirting down his arm.

Which he'd never felt before, not like that. "Stop moving, stop," she said, and he did. Tai let go and flopped back against the stairs. "I mean," she said, grinning broadly, "you can just hang out in there as long as you like, because you feel great. Oh, my god." Her muscles pulsed around him. Her clit was rock hard against his palm.

"Oh, I'm very comfortable. Bit wet, though."

Tai cracked up. She seemed entirely unselfconscious, sprawled before him. Her soft stomach folded above the roll of her skirt. The berry red of her nipples matched her smiling mouth.

"What the hell just happened?" Sherlock demanded.

"Actually, cramp. Sorry, got to--" John worked his hand out, rubbing his wrist. Bloody damn nerve damage in his left arm. Tai hummed a cheery tune, wiggling her knee in the air. His arm was dripping and there was an enormous wet spot on his thigh.

Sherlock touched him. His cold finger sent a shiver across John's naked back. "What did she--what is that?"

"If you've been very good, and gave money to charity, and rescue stray puppies, and live a good life," John started, as Sherlock scowled and Tai giggled, "then sometimes, just sometimes, a lady comes all over you." He licked his arm. Salty. Womanly.

"Why didn't I know this?"

John shrugged. "Because you've never had sex with a woman?"

"Well, I've done my research," Sherlock said.

Tai thumbed her nipple, looking at Sherlock. "Squirting videos are available at the shop."

"Squirting," Sherlock repeated. Must have been the first time he heard the term. John grinned at Tai.

"John," Tai said, hooking his knee with her boot. "Can you get it up again?"

"No, not a chance. I'm nearly forty. Lucky I can do one a night." John shrugged; he'd had a bloody good time.

Tai's eyes slid to Sherlock. Sherlock jumped to his feet, caromed off the door frame, and retreated all the way to the sitting room window. "You've completely ruined my concentration!" Sherlock yelled.

John sat on the floor, his knees tired as anything, and glanced at the kitchen model. "Maybe the victim was washing up after fucking his ex? That would explain everything: The angle, the lack of dishes, the lack of forced entry. Maybe he was washing the dildo."

"Easy soap and water cleanup is a selling point," Tai said. She sat up and hugged John from behind. "Shower?" She drew a finger up his sticky arm.

Sherlock looked horrified, then thoughtful, then furious. "If you give me a hand," John said. "I think my legs stopped working."

*

Chapter Text

*

Tai slept over. She worked three twelves, she said, so she had more days off work than on. John didn't dream with a warm body beside him. It was marvelous.

Sherlock didn't eat breakfast. Just tea. He was still fully dressed in yesterday's clothes. He started pushing the kitchen furniture back into place, texting with one hand. "Don't dent the lino. We're still paying off the carnage you wreaked on the wall," John said.

"Yes, yes." Sherlock leaned his back against the fridge and pushed with his legs, looking at his phone.

"What did he do?" Tai asked.

"Decided the wall would look better with a spray paint smiley face and holes in the plaster. It's why we have a picture of the Queen up there, to cover the hole in the paper." Rescued from his sister's attic. His mum had kept it in the hall for years.

"I like the retro patriotism thing you have going on," Tai said.

"It's not retro. I'm just old," John said, smiling, and she fisted his shirt front and pulled him in for a kiss.

Sherlock heaved the table a few inches across the floor with a mighty groan. Mrs. Hudson knocked at the bottom of the stairwell wall. "What's all that row? I can't hear Breakfast!" she yelled up the stairs.

John hung in the kitchen door and shouted back: "Sherlock's just moving the furniture! Won't be a minute!"

"Now why would you move the furniture? Oh, the Detective Inspector is here. Would you like some cake?"

"That would be lovely, Mrs. Hudson!" John stepped back into the kitchen.

"Detective Inspector?" Tai asked.

"We do, actually, work with the police," John said.

Sherlock smiled at the ceiling. "We do the fun part. The running and the shouting and the jumping off buildings and the really good problems. We leave Lestrade the filling out forms and domestic disputes and excruciatingly dull murders," he said, as Lestrade's (surprisingly light and energetic; the man always seemed like he should be clinically depressed) footsteps echoed up the stairs.

"Don't I know it, you smug, smirking wanker, and if you're right about this, you can stick it up your arsehole sideways--" Lestrade rounded the corner and saw Tai. "Er. Excuse me, miss. John." He shoved the plate of cake into Sherlock's hand.

Tai grinned and waved, chin on her hand. She was wearing John's dressing gown; John was in shirt and pyjama pants. Pretty obviously post-coital, even for a dull man, which Lestrade wasn't. Lestrade's eyes didn't flick to Sherlock, but he did lean back a little bit, so he was probably drawing some kind of not-entirely-wrong conclusion.

"John! Be the victim," Sherlock said. He shoved the cake back at Lestrade, and Lestrade let out a small huffing chuckle and took a piece. John put down his tea and stood by the sink obediently. "Victim calls his ex. Ex comes over, they fight, they have sex. During the sex, this comes into play." Sherlock produced the dildo from his pocket. Lestrade raised his eyebrows. "They fight again. Victim washes up. Easy clean-up with soap and water, thank you, Tai."

Lestrade looked at Tai again. "I work at Behind Closed Doors," she said.

"Ex is still angry. Victim is bent over the sink. Dildo is the perfect instrument, a symbol of sexual betrayal. The ex didn't buy it for him; some other lover did. Ex grabs it out of the dish drainer and smashes his head in." Sherlock demonstrated with a light tap on the back of John's head. "It breaks in the later scuffle, against something sharp--the marble cheese board, that had a chip--but it's more than heavy enough to do the job."

"We killed some coconuts," John said. He'd really enjoyed that.

"Go look through the evidence again and you should find more pieces. It holds fingerprints beautifully," Sherlock said, opening his hand to demonstrate.

"Decorative and fun," Tai said.

"I didn't see you as the dildo type, Sherlock," Lestrade said. He took the pink glass from Sherlock and hefted it experimentally.

"Believe me, there is no type," Tai said.

"John worked it out." Sherlock took a piece of cake and retreated to the sitting room, where he picked up the chunk of glass in the evidence bag. "That one's mine. You can't have it. Is there anything new?"

"No. Plain, everyday, vicious stabbings, you can take your pick. Anomalous dildo crime, I'm sadly out." Lestrade set the dildo on the table. "Sorry, miss. Detective Inspector Geoffrey Lestrade," he said, offering Tai his hand.

"Store Manager Tai Morstan," she said, shaking it.

"If Sherlock goes funny on you, here's my card. Day or night. More than happy to lock him up."

"Does Sherlock often go funny on John's dates?" Tai asked Lestrade.

"Educated guess, miss." Lestrade looked at John.

"Well--actually, no funnier than he has already," John said. Creepy boundary-pushing, check. Acting like he and John were a couple, check. Involving her in a case, check. No kidnapping, but that wasn't Sherlock's fault.

"That's all right, then." But Tai tucked the card into her handbag anyway.

*

tea
washing-up liquid
shampoo
condoms use Tai's discount

*

So things with Tai really, really, really worked. She dressed younger than she was, which made him look like her dad, and she listened to current music, which John couldn't be arsed to keep up with, and she didn't drink, so John didn't drink in front of her, even when he he was dying for a pint. But she got on with Sherlock, and that was worth any compromise. Because Sherlock was more important than his girlfriend.

That was an uncomfortable realization. Fortunately, he had someone to discuss things with, in the form of his psychologist. He laid it all out: Cuddling with Sherlock, and then shagging in front of him; oh, and the thing with Sherlock stealing his skivvies, which he'd nearly forgotten about, because he honestly didn't care.

"So, the other night," John said. "Two in the morning, he got in bed and started sucking on my fingers. I let him, didn't say a thing. I asked in the morning and he said he was trying to work out if he could feel my fingerprints with his tongue. It's just wrong!"

"What about it is wrong?" Ella asked.

He shook his head. "Christ, this is what Sherlock uses me for, isn't it? You're just a pair of ears so I'm not talking to myself."

She smiled.

"He's sneaking himself into my trousers and I don't even mind," John said. "Does this make me gay?"

"Bisexual, maybe," Ella said.

"That should terrify me."

"Why? You're not homophobic; you're comfortable with your sister, and you've thought Sherlock was gay since you met."

"Because I'm nearly forty and should know who I am," John said. "But... I've been reevaluating a number of aspects of my life, haven't I?" He leaned forward, chin on his folded hands.

"Yes, you have."

"And my body trusts him. All those times he's woken me up and I've never hit him."

So he thought about that on the way home.

Home, where Sherlock was all out of work. Bored Sherlock, in pyjamas and dressing gown, lounging on the sofa with his head on the coffee table and his legs up the wall, holding the pink dildo to his chest. He looked up at John. "I tried this," he said. "I didn't like it. It felt like a cold stick of glass up the arse."

"Well, it's an acquired taste, things up the arse," John said.

"One that you have?" Sherlock asked. He examined John's face. "Yes, you do."

John nodded. "I'm secure in my masculinity."

"I suppose a large penis doesn't hurt there."

"Is it?" John asked disingenuously. "Never measured."

"Liar," Sherlock said.

"Yeah," John agreed, grinning.

"Would you show me?" Sherlock asked.

"My cock?" He already had, more than just the once. Sherlock didn't respect closed doors at all.

"Why a man would enjoy a dildo."

He wanted to watch Tai fuck John? No, he wanted to watch John get fucked, Tai or no Tai, John thought. This should definitely bother him; this should definitely not sound fantastic, and should most definitely not make his cock press against his trouser buttons.

Sherlock watched him, doubtless reading John's thoughts as they came to him. Sherlock's eyes lowered to John's trouser front and John pulled out his phone and rang Tai. "Hi. Sherlock wondered if you'd come over and peg me. I'm up for it if you are," John said.

Clatter. "Yes!" Tai shouted, sounding far away. "Sorry! Got so excited I dropped the phone. Be there in twenty." She hung up.

"Right," John said. "Just let her in when she comes. I'm going to go have a damn good wash."

*

There was already a chair in the bedroom for Sherlock. John couldn't remember when it had become a feature of the room, but he was pretty sure Sherlock sat in it and watched him sleep.

(Sherlock's bed was a mattress on the floor piled with random blankets, ruined clothes, and books. He slept curled up between the sharp things, on top of the soft things, when he slept. No wonder he preferred John's bed, a grand old quacking-spring wood-frame job that took up the entire width of the small room.)

Tai cracked her knuckles. Sherlock sat and looked at John. John dropped his dressing gown. He was still damp from the shower (and very, very, very, very clean). "I got shot," he said, touching his shoulder, the raised pink scar. "Bit of nerve damage, bit of PTSD. Not too bad."

"She didn't ask. She didn't even look," Sherlock said. "Why are you thinking about that?"

"Hospital was the last time a grown man saw me naked."

"It looks severe," Tai said. "It must have been awful."

"It just missed the subclavian artery. Anyway. Thought you should know. How do you want me?"

"Hanging from the ceiling, dressed as Batman?" Tai offered.

"The landlady won't let us put hooks in the plaster."

"On your side, then, give us a show."

"Right." On his side, meeting Sherlock's ice-grey eyes; there was that thrill again, right down his stomach and into his cock, which twitched, drawing Sherlock's gaze.

Tai snapped on a glove. Shouldn't be hot; was. Motto of the night, that. She spread a gloved finger with lube. "Done this before?" she asked.

"Ah, well. I had a girlfriend who always had her hands up my arse," he said as Tai inserted an inquiring finger. "Yes, just like that," he said, a little breathless. "And--in medical school--I had all sorts of mad wanks. Trying to get it done fast, so I could get back to studying. In the army, too, so I could sleep. Hand on cock and toothbrush up bottom, minute and a half." He was rock hard from the internal slide of her fingers.

"No hot young soldiers helping you out?" Tai purred. "The porn is a lie."

"Well--no, I was a doctor first. By the time I got out there, I was old enough to be those boys' dad. They found each other for sex and found me for a cry. Sorry, lost the moment," he said. Tai was already pulling out. War wasn't sexy.

"Sorry," Tai said. "Party foul."

"No, it's me. Cup of tea, try again?" John sat up and pointed to his dressing gown.

Sherlock handed it to him, looking put out. "Over so fast?"

"This has to do with feelings and all, Sherlock. Fuck off," John said. He covered up. Tai hugged him.

John made the tea, waiting for his slippery arse to stop feeling like a prostate check and start feeling like a party again. "No wonder people spend so much time thinking about sex, if it's so easy to get it wrong," Sherlock said.

"You said you weren't a couple when we met. Was that a line?" Tai asked.

"No," John said.

"It isn't. He's been mine since the day after we met," Sherlock said.

"Not like that. He doesn't have sex," John told Tai.

"Celibate or ace?" she asked Sherlock.

"Ace," Sherlock said. His eyes flickered to John. "Asexual."

"Right, I would have figured out the terminology," John muttered. "We're not together, but we do... sleep in the same bed. Christ, we're together, aren't we?" he said to the air.

"Finders keepers," Sherlock said. "I saw him first."

"How are you at sharing?" Tai asked.

"Appalling." But Sherlock was leaning toward her with interest.

John took a long drink of tea. "I'm straight; I like women; I'm not fucking Sherlock; I'm available. I'm letting Sherlock watch because we're just that weird," John said. "Let's go."

Tai suggested the sofa instead. Change of venue. John reclined on a blanket, not quite hard yet; getting there. Sherlock knelt beside the sofa and folded his arms on the leather, elbows touching John's side, soft cotton over sharp bone. "You're responding to me," Sherlock said.

"Talk about it and I might stop," John said. Which was a lie. He saw Sherlock's eyes cataloging his body and felt a surge of excitement down his spine that was utterly new in his experience. (And he was thoroughly experienced. He'd been fucked up one side and down the other by women.)

Tai stroked his thighs. Sherlock was looking at his cock. "Spread 'em, dollface," Tai said, and John did. She'd regloved. She slid in a finger--he was still slippery--and John sighed a little, and Tai stroked him from the inside. It hurt but didn't. More an ache, like stretching a sore muscle. He flicked his nipple--right nipple, he didn't have sensation in the left due to the scarring--which caught Sherlock's eye, so that he glanced from John's cock to his chest to his face.

"Say when," Tai said.

"Uncle," John replied. His bare foot rested on her thigh. She drew her fingers out and picked up the pink dildo. She was still clothed, and so was Sherlock, of course. Bit odd to be the main course in an erotic buffet, but he couldn't say it was turning him off. Not off at all.

He felt Tai spread his arse open; then felt cool glass. He hissed a bit and focused on in. Relax, let it in. Let it--it was in. Just the head, the blob at the top, hard, solid, pressing, and she tilted it up against his, damn, his on button, that was what. He clenched around it--utterly unlike flesh--and shivered, and threw an arm over his head. "Good?" Tai checked.

"Good."

Tai turned it--and there was just no yielding with this thing, it was glass, no movement like fingers, no push back--he may have lifted his hips off the sofa. He definitely tilted up to meet it, and maybe take some more. He opened his eyes. Hadn't realized he's closed them. He felt something dripping over his balls; Tai oiling him up, frictionless. She slid her palm flat over his shaft, hot thrill, then twisted it and he said "more, more!" and pushed up into her lap.

He wanted to be more naked, utterly bare, wanted more sensation on the inside of his skin. She gave him more. Huge. So hard. So slick and shiny, filling him up, all over that space inside his skin. He was making a bit of noise, because Tai was pushing up his thigh and moving the glass inside him.

John opened his eyes. Ceiling, and shadows, making fucking motions. Proper orgy in here. "Does it hurt?" Sherlock asked.

John opened his mouth to answer but what came out was "Oh, oh, FUCK," as Tai worked him a little harder. Knobbly hot glass sliding across the entire inside of his skin, right up to his throat. He stopped saying "oh" and just moaned, hard, shoving himself into Tai's lap; she hauled his leg up over her shoulder and gave it to him properly.

Hand on his cock ended him. He thrust and came on his stomach, but it didn't end there; he still had hard glass pushing at his insides, milking the orgasm, dragging it out. He kept coming until it hurt and he groaned, "Enough..."

Tai stopped fucking him. She stroked his thigh, easing him down; she turned her head and kissed his knee.

"Prolonged orgasm," Sherlock murmured, like he was taking notes.

"Internal," John said, trying to catch his breath.

"Do you feel more powerful penetrating a man?" Sherlock asked Tai.

"Yeah," she said. She kissed John's knee again.

"Do you feel less powerful?"

John shrugged. He felt sleepy. He was trying not to fade out.

Tai was looking at his arse. "You took a lot. Want it out fast or slow?"

"Mm," John said.

Tai slid the dildo out and John woke right up. He swore he could feel every bump as they caught on his hole. Tai leaned over when it was out, kissed his mouth, and left him there as she tidied, folded up on the sofa with Sherlock. "Mmph," John said, squirming a little. He felt hollow.

"I could do that for you easily," Sherlock said.

John folded his arm over his face. "No you couldn't."

And he smiled.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Last night

The key to bedroom adventures is open communication.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Last night

Sorry. I don't really know what's going on. Never did anything like this before. No threesome. No men.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Last night

He is way into you. The only other asexual I've met just didn't do romantic relationships at all.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Last night

He propositioned me once. He said that he COULD have sex with me if absolutely necessary. He doesn't want me. You're probably right about me not being a Kinsey 0, though. Maybe a 1.

I'm sorry, I shouldn't have gotten you involved.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Last night

Hm. So if I keep dating you, you probably won't shag for me, but you might make out. What are the odds on him taking his clothes off next time?

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Last night

Really?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Last night

I'm a big girl. If it gets weird, I'll call the cute cop.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Last night

The cute cop is married.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Last night

Pants.

I'll have to stay with you two, then. ;)

*

From: Sherlock Holmes
To: John Watson
Subject: this seems improbable
Attachment: massivecockspurtingontits.avi

[no text]

From: John Watson
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: Re: this seems improbable

1. Why do you watch porn?
2. Fake cock spraying salad cream.

From: Sherlock Holmes
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: this seems improbable

1. Why not?
2. Why?

*

"Can I ask you something?" John said to Ella. "Do you think I'm well-adjusted, or just broken in a way that leaves me functional?"

"I'm a health care worker. I diagnose everyone. Don't you? Look around and see asthma, heart disease, diabetes? But if the problem isn't acute, then you do nothing, because it's none of your business." John nodded; she was right. "Is your mental state bothering you? Because I don't see that you're a danger to yourself or others; I see nothing that gives me an obligation to take action."

"No," John said, "and that's what worries me. I feel a bit wild, but it feels good."

"You've let your guard down considerably," Ella said. "Those first few weeks, if I asked if it was raining, you examined my motivations."

"Trust issues," John said. Her notebook was sitting closed on the floor beside her chair.

"Exactly."

"I was afraid I was losing my mind, and I didn't want anyone to see it."

"And now?"

"I'm afraid I'm losing my mind, and I want you to see it. Because I have people I care about that I might hurt."

"Well." Ella smiled. "I call that progress. And I don't think you're losing your mind."

"I feel like I did with Bill before we deployed, when we were running around London pulling women every night. Like I'm storing up good times before the bad." John folded his hands under his chin.

"You used protection?"

John nodded.

"A strong sex drive isn't a bad thing."

"I had a really good time," John said, smiling despite himself.

"There you go. Shag him, he sounds like he could use it," Ella said.

John laughed.

*

Reasons this thing with Sherlock is excellent:
1. Hot.
2. Really hot.
3. Much more comprehensible than when we weren't having sex.

Reasons why this thing is awful:
1. Sherlock's life is a swirling whirlpool of madness.
2. Sherlock's eyes when he looks at my body.
3. I want that look so much it scares me.

*

On their next date, they stayed at home and had Indian takeaway (Tai tore naan into tiny pieces before eating it) and a film (Raiders of the Lost Ark). They didn't try to keep Sherlock out. At the beginning of the movie, Tai sat in the old velvet chair, John in the desk chair, and Sherlock on the sofa; by the end, John and Tai both sat in the velvet chair, Tai more or less in John's lap, with Sherlock on the floor, leaning against their knees.

Then bed (Tai used a vibrator on his perineum until his arms and legs shook and tears came to his eyes and he was moaning and coming and coming and coming, Sherlock staring at him in blurry wonder), and then deep sleep, Tai on one side and Sherlock on the other. It was nice.

*

butter
boot knife
milk
unscented washing-up liquid
sriracha sauce

Excessive spicing kills taste buds.--SH

Fine by me, I can't cook.--JW

eggs
bread
something for dinner

Spaghetti.--SH.

*

Case! John was sorting through two boxes of rotting oranges, handkerchief stuffed in his mouth to stifle the gag reflex (sweet, cloying, insinuating stench, mixed with the visual horror of mold and pulp sliding through his gloved hands). But he found it, the only hard thing in the bin, and though Sherlock buried his nose in his sleeve when John approached, his eyes lit up when he saw the memory card. "Yes!" And he cleaned it, and could read it, and that led to a very bad man.

Then: Chase. Knife fight. Dramatic cornering by the police. Perp tried to take Sherlock hostage and was treated to a grand display of Sherlock's acting abilities: Sherlock burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably until the bad guy put his knife in just the wrong place.

"You could have done that at the start," John said.

Sherlock looked at him like he was stupid. "There was a risk of him slashing my coat."

"Yes, but I'm certain Donovan took pictures of you crying for LOLSherlock."

Sherlock scowled. Then home. Then a good night's sleep (Sherlock slept deeply and peacefully after a case; he held onto John like a teddy bear). Then the boredom set in again.

*

John was mending his jumper (knife slash, but the knit was bulky enough it hadn't gone through to his skin) in his room when he heard Sherlock whipping himself next door. He wasn't going to say anything (a man was entitled to wank in peace) but Sherlock left his bedroom a few minutes later, went down to the kitchen, and started rummaging around. Public area. John followed him.

Sherlock was naked (he had moles on his back; John made a mental note to find out if he had a dermatologist, because those needed checking) and bleeding from the inner thigh. "What are you looking for?" John asked.

"Stop the bleeding. Did you move the first aid kit?"

"Yeah, it's under the desk. Sit down, I'll handle it."

Sherlock sat in a kitchen chair; John fetched the kit. Sherlock's skin was reddened down his chest, but he had no other injuries. The cuts weren't too deep. He was athlete-thin, not fashion model-anorexic, so that was good. No new track marks, just the old white scars along his left arm. (Intravenous cocaine. The idiot.)

When John knelt between Sherlock's legs to tend the cuts, Sherlock's cock was limp as a fillet of raw chicken. Poor bastard. John cleaned him up with Dettol and covered the cuts with non-stick dressing and a bit of tape. "No giggling, no intrusive questions?" Sherlock asked.

"No. I was an A&E doctor before I was an army doctor. First lesson is not to laugh at the wank accidents. Besides, it's not funny."

"No?"

"Peeled carrot up the bum, now that's funny. Wire whip marks, not really." John straightened up and leaned on the wall beside Sherlock.

"I was experimenting with pain."

"Verdict?"

"It hurt and I didn't enjoy it."

"Sorry."

"It's data. There's no emotional weight." Sherlock sighed and rubbed his reddened chest. "I'm highly attractive, is that right?" he asked.

"Highly," John confirmed.

"People pursue me even when I don't respond. If I could make myself want them, certain situations would be much easier. If I could just turn on like you turn on, I could fake it."

"Do you actually want to want people, or do you want to want to want people?" John asked.

Sherlock stared at him. "That was gibberish."

"If you don't want to have sex, don't have sex. Do you want to have a cuddle and watch some bad TV?" Did straight men cuddle while wide awake? Oh, the hell with it. He'd never worried about propriety with Sherlock before. He wanted to hug the man. Even though Sherlock didn't seem self-conscious while naked, he looked diminished, fragile, exposed.

"No..." Sherlock said, too fast. His voice trailed off uncertainly.

"Meaning yes?"

"Yes."

Sherlock (cock still soft, even when John slid an arm around his bare waist and Sherlock shivered into goosebumps) wrapped up in the freshly washed sofa blanket. He leaned back into John's arms and John pressed his face into Sherlock's hair (glossy, delicious, he spent twenty minutes working on it after every shower) and they slid their legs together. Sherlock drew up his knee and drummed his long toes against the top of John's foot. They watched half of CSI, all of Snog, Marry, Avoid, a rerun of QI. Shouldn't be romantic. Was.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: work

This week, Wed, Thu, Fri, regular Sat class.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: work

Lunch Saturday?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: work

Sure. New cafe? Pauline says it's good. The chef was on that Gordon Ramsay show.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: work

Sorry, have to cancel. Apparently we're going to Bristol. Something about exploding camper vans.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: you

LOL XOXOXO

*

The Case of the Lethal Fire Extinguisher. Excellent good fun. John lost a jumper. Sherlock lost his eyebrows and half his fringe; it took him thirty minutes to fix his hair in the morning, instead of twenty, until it grew back.

Vanity, thy name is Sherlock, John posted to his blog. Let's get him to shave his head for Children in Need.

Sherlock Holmes: Shan't.

John Watson: I'll do it too.

Sherlock Holmes: NO.

Sherlock Holmes: You're not going to cut my hair off as I sleep as some sort of blokey prank, are you?

Elder Brother: Oh, dear, I did hope you would have got past that by now.

John Watson: Your tonsorial virtue is safe with me. Consensual shaving only.

*

If I won the lottery:
Triumph Bonneville
Country home
Jet
Batman's flying armour

*

But then there was the time when John was licking Tai out ("We really should have missionary position sex some time," she said.

"Why?" John said) on the bed, blankets rumpled around them, and somehow as he shifted to wank himself off, he knelt on Sherlock's arm. Didn't notice Sherlock trying to get out from under him until Sherlock slapped his arse, hard, and yelled "OFF!"

John moved. Sherlock bolted downstairs. John paused; girlfriend? Sherlock? until Tai put a foot in his chest and pushed him upright. "Go get him."

Sherlock was pacing. He took one look at John's face, rolled his eyes, and said, "No, I was not molested as a child. Or an adult."

"Okay. That was the middle question of actually a rather long series."

"I don't want to discuss this," Sherlock said.

"Yeah, too late. We're talking!"

"Just don't touch me and I'll be fine!"

John reached out. Sherlock flinched. "Where's the line?" John said. "You cuddle me, you sleep with me, you suck my fingers, you watch me get off, but kneeling on your hand accidentally is too much?"

"I'm not!"

"You ran out the room like you were on fire!" John yelled, frustrated.

"I was INVOLVED in the SEX! I DON'T WANT TO BE!" Sherlock roared back.

Their next door neighbour knocked on the wall and yelled something too muffled to understand. John shut his mouth, embarrassed. "I'm going back to bed. When you figure out what the hell you want, text me," he said.

Sherlock wrinkled his nose. He opened his laptop. John climbed the stairs, blushing and angry and still hard, dammit, so his cock chafed against his dressing gown.

Tai was still lying back with her knees in the air. "Oh," she said. John climbed back in and tried to kiss her, but she kneed him in the thigh. "Don't cheat on Sherlock with me," she said.

"What the hell are you talking about? You're my girlfriend--"

"Not yet."

"Fine, fine, fine, fine, just--damn it all," John bit out, the anger coiling through his belly saying go shoot something, you'll feel better.

He didn't, because he wasn't John Rambo, he was Doctor John Watson, and he knew a wide variety of calming mental exercises. Tai got out of bed. John tried the one where he was a leaf floating on a millpond, but he kept mentally going up the wheel and getting ground into the wheat.

*

Reasons not to kill Sherlock Holmes in his sleep:
I'm not that kind of person

*

He was not quite asleep, eyes closed, thinking about sheep (clover, sorrel, heavy smell of lanolin, woollen jumpers, woollen socks, sheepdogs, brindle, merle, Afghan hounds with long elegant noses) when Tai and Sherlock both came back. "He's awake," Sherlock said.

"Trying not to be," John said, but he opened his eyes.

"There is totally a solution for Sherlock's problem, which you would know if you weren't both idiots," Tai said. She climbed in on John's right.

Sherlock climbed in on John's left. "I now have a safe word," he said, pronouncing each word distinctly, as if they tasted bad.

"Oh yeah?"

"It's 'safeword'," Sherlock said.

"Logical."

"Yes, exactly."

"I'm a genius," Tai sing-songed into his ear. "Come fuck me." She pulled on his chin until he rolled over and kissed her, and then she slid her hand down his chest to his cock and roused him again, and they did end up in the missionary position, except that Sherlock sat up beside them and held Tai's foot in his hand so she had the leverage to fuck the hell out of John; so it didn't take long, and she came not long after he did, foot still in Sherlock's hand.

"I don't understand you at all," John muttered. He snuggled in between Tai and Sherlock.

"I'm unknowable," Sherlock said. He trailed the back of a finger along John's ear.

*

Reasons not to kill Sherlock Holmes in his sleep:
I'm not that kind of person
may be in love with him (never tell him this; he already knows)
without him, my life is unbearable again

*

They had sex again in the morning. John sat up, started to get out of bed, but Tai knelt up and grabbed him (Sherlock already sitting at the foot of the bed with his laptop, but he did look up and watch) and clamped onto him like a limpet, arm around his chest and scrabbling against his sensitive nipple, other arm jerking him off, lips against his neck, then his ear, biting and kissing. He was still mostly asleep. He was cursing and panting before he knew what was happening, then coming--

"AUGH," Sherlock cried. Stood up. Tactical error; he'd been kneeling in front of John, apparently. Now he had semen in his eye. John giggled, too exhausted to be sympathetic. "That hurts!" Sherlock wiped his face with his forearms.

"Should have worn your safety goggles," John giggled, holding his stomach. He fell over onto his side and tried to muffle himself in the blankets.

"Clearly!" Sherlock said. He retreated downstairs, holding his eye.

Tai straddled his hip and started grinding her wet cunt against his pelvis. "I have work today, got to make it quick," she said.

"Oh, don't mind me," John said, and started giggling again. She kissed the laugh off him and came.

Tai ran naked to the shower. John followed at a more leisurely pace. Sherlock was wiping his face at the kitchen sink. "That was revolting," Sherlock said. John grinned. "There's a lingering smell," Sherlock said, and stuck his entire head under the tap.

John fetched the newspapers from the front door and ran into their next door neighbours, the married gays. "Hi," he said. "Sorry about the row last night."

Two blokes, both dark-skinned, one in jeans and expensive hair, the other in a suit and no hair. "No problem," the one in jeans said. Mehdi, easy to remember. The other one was something with a B. Brendan. Brian. Bob. "It's John, right?"

"Yeah." He shook hands.

"And tall and gorgeous is Sherlock? We hear all about you from Mrs. Hudson."

John smiled. "She's a dear."

"She is," Mehdi agreed.

"We like the violin," B said. "Is that you or him?"

"Oh, god, him. I do the tea and the shouting, he does the violin and the weird smells. Ah, good morning," John said, suddenly conscious of his bare feet and general undress.

Tai pounded down the stairs, so he left the door open. "Bye!" she yelled as she flew out into the street.

"My girlfriend," John said, and nodded, and his neighbours nodded back, and he closed the door. John heard the shower still running. He snickered under his breath. Sherlock.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: omelet?

Keep trying to make an omelet and I just end up with scrambled eggs. Do you know how?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: omelet?

No. I can make a wicked curry, though. And bake. I'm off tomorrow, I'll bake you and Sherlock some scones.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: omelet?

Mmm.

Have I mentioned my friend Bill Murray? He's just had a baby and I'm going up to see her Friday. Would you like to come?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: omelet?

I'd love to, but I can't get the day off. Nobody else can cover. Sorry, pet.

*

Birmingham. He took the train up alone; he didn't think Sherlock and babies would mix.

Bill Murray (tall, handsome, painfully young, looked like Will Smith with British teeth) held his newborn daughter in his big hands. (So very, very young. Twenty-two. He dragged John to cover with those hands when John was too shocky to move or respond. Slapped John until he woke up. Held John's blood in his body. Forced life back into his body.)

His wife Letitia was on the sofa, knackered but delighted, traditional new mum expression. "Look how beautiful she is," Bill said. He was going to be a great dad. Unlike John, he didn't have a trace of PTSD. When he smiled, there were no hidden shadows. No traps. "Hold her," Bill said.

John did. Tiny dense weight, soft baby bones, sleeping. Closed eyes, wrinkled little face. "Absolutely beautiful," John said, because she was a baby, and she was new, and her life so far was perfect. "What are you naming her? You said you hadn't decided," he asked. She squirmed, burbled, and Letitia held her arms out. John handed the baby to her.

Letitia cuddled the baby to her breast, and Bill leaned over her, which is when the world stopped seeming so cheery. Soldier, mother, where was his gun? No, he wasn't in Afghanistan, he was in Birmingham. Damn it! His heart raced. He tried to sit on the coffee table but missed and hit the floor.

"John?"

John sat up. Hands shaking, feeling clammy. "I'm okay," he said.

Bill offered his hand. Pulled John up onto the sofa next to Letitia. John rubbed his head, let everything go for a moment. Concentrated on breathing in, holding it, breathing out. "I'm getting better, actually," John said.

"Still not good, though," Bill said.

"No," John said. Bill saved his life but not his sanity. He looked up. Met Letitia's eyes. "I'm glad Bill made it all the way home."

Letitia nodded, stroked her daughter's head. "We're naming her Hope," she said.

"Good name."

*

to do:
get out of Afghanistan

*

John told Ella all about the incident, of course. Got more CBT in return. (Cognitive behavioural therapy. When he told Tai he was doing CBT with Ella, she spit tea across the table. Turned out that meant something else in her line of work.)

John leaned back, reflected. "I have to beat this," he said. "If I start flinching whenever I see a black woman with her child, I might as well pick up my National Front card right now."

Ella tilted her head, smiling slightly. "John. Don't give up."

End of the session. Oh, question: "Could I bring Sherlock in with me some time? Is that allowed?"

"Fine by me," Ella said. "Does he want to come in?"

"Not in the least, but I want him to," John said. "He could do with someone analysing him for a change."

"Good luck with that." She smiled. "I would be very interested to see you together."

*

Took your butter, will replace. --XOXOXO Tai

*

Monday morning. Still no case. Tai came by, early, with fresh scones and replacement butter. Sherlock snapped his teeth at her when she stepped into the kitchen; he was working. She snarled back. Well done her.

John didn't have any work, of course, and he was tired of reading medical literature, so he amused himself poking through Tai's massive handbag. "Rope," he said.

"Yes."

"You carry rope in your handbag."

"Doesn't every modern lady?" Tai asked. John looked at her. She grinned. "It's left over from Saturday class," she admitted.

Sherlock took notice. "Do you take a class or teach a class involving ropes?"

"Teach."

Sherlock jumped up and raked his eyes over the rope in John's hands. "Bondage?"

"Beginners and advanced," Tai said.

"How very interesting," Sherlock said, his voice low.

So when Lestrade finally came by, juicy crime in hand, Sherlock was tied on the floor in the middle of the flat. Tai and John were standing around watching him. Tai had EMT scissors ready when Sherlock finally gave up and admitted he couldn't get out of the ropes.

He was trying to untie the ropes around his wrists with his toes. Valiant effort, but the business end of the knots was up by his elbows. "Give up, Sherlock," John said.

"I nearly have this," Sherlock said.

"No you don't," Tai said, twirling the scissors around her fingers.

"Nice knots," Lestrade said.

"Thank you!"

"Bit of a hobby?"

"Part of my profession. We do a Bondage 101 class at the shop; you should come by," Tai said, and smiled.

"Not really my bag, I'm afraid. Come on, Sherlock, I'm on duty here!"

"I nearly have it!" Sherlock said.

"Post!" Mrs. Hudson called. She climbed the stairs. "Sorry, loves, full of bills."

John checked his watch. "Twenty minutes. Tai, cut them off, he's going to hurt himself."

"No!" Sherlock said. He bared his teeth as if he would go for the throat if they tried untying him.

"Ooh! What's all this, then?" Mrs. Hudson said. She set the post on the side table.

"I do a bondage class, Mrs. H. I was just showing Sherlock," Tai said.

Mrs. Hudson clasped her hands under her chin. "What fun! Discipline as well, or do you just tie them up?"

"Another girl teaches beatings. Ropes are my speciality."

"Oh, yes, very professionally done. Enjoying yourself, love?" she asked Sherlock. Sherlock ignored her.

"Are you the least bit interested in this case?" Lestrade asked.

"I don't know. Show me." Sherlock nodded him over.

"Aren't you going to--no, of course not. Here." Lestrade held the folder open in front of his face, turning the photos as Sherlock grunted.

"Double suicide. Boring."

"Do you want to know what makes it interesting?"

"They have a flatmate. Innocent. Didn't know about it." Sherlock worked his toes into the loops of rope.

"So you won't even look," Lestrade said.

"Why? I've already seen everything."

Lestrade turned to John. "I'm a doctor, not a consulting detective. Don't look at me," John said.

Lestrade tucked the file away, resigned. Sherlock threw the full leverage of his legs into the loops of rope--thus tightening them against his arms painfully. His eyes widened and he fell over onto his side. "Safe word! Yes, you win, get this off me now."

John and Lestrade dived in and picked him up as Tai cut through the ropes like butter. John checked Sherlock's circulation and joints. "Yes, you nearly had it," John said. "When your arms turned gangrenous and fell off, you would have been away like a shot."

"You tricked me!" Sherlock said.

"Yeah," Tai said.

"You'll have to show me how you did that." Sherlock said. John rubbed Sherlock's arms.

"Nope," Tai said.

"I'll just be off, then," Lestrade said. "Working." Mrs. Hudson walked him out.

"Did you enjoy that?" Tai asked, eyes sparkling.

"Immensely," Sherlock said.

*

The Lovers' Knot.

This is what Sherlock and I DIDN'T do this past week. We DIDN'T look into a double suicide. Instead, that honour went to ** of Scotland Yard. (Sorry, can't tell you his name, but I have it on good authority he's a very handsome man.) HE investigated the scene and found the suspicious lack of anything in the fire safe. Clever Dick Holmes saw that they had a flatmate, saw that it was a clear suicide, but did not see that the flatmate had a boyfriend, the boyfriend was a psycho, and that he manipulated them into killing themselves so that he could rifle their belongings at his leisure. HE caught said boyfriend by tracking loose diamonds across the dicey underworld of the London gems market.

Clever Dick Holmes, meanwhile, spent the week investigating the best method of brewing tea. (Verdict: I don't give a monkey's fart; I'm still using bags.)

DI Lestrade: Hm. Who could this mysterious, handsome investigator be? (And on whose authority? Not SH.)

John Watson: On my lady friend's.

Harry Watson: Ooh, lady friend? When do I meet her?

John Watson: Early days. Very early. I don't like to rush.

Sherlock Holmes: Fuck right off, John. Anyway, we have our own gems case. I got an email while you were sitting on the sofa chortling over your cleverness.

*

Case. Something was incoming fast, John thought after he reacted; he held up a metal chair, the first solid thing to hand, and the impact knocked him off his feet. But that was fine. It would have hit Sherlock.

Sherlock picked it up: Boomerang, the real deal, not a cheap souvenir. "I suppose they're Australian," John said, climbing to his feet. He pulled Sherlock around the corner for cover.

"Don't be--oh, yes, of course they're Australian!"

John smirked. "Don't be right?"

Sherlock shook his head, took John's hand, and they pelted down the hall.

*

Rubies found, thieves arrested. Home.

John climbed the stairs first, locked up his pistol, and found Sherlock plastered to his back, licking his ear. John laughed, half from relief that he hadn't put Sherlock through a wall. Anybody else grabbing him would have been flattened. "Tai's in bed by now. Stow it."

"We don't need her." Sherlock tore open his shirt and flicked his thumb over John's nipple, and opened John's trousers and slid his hand down to cup his cock, and yes, he had been taking notes, hadn't he?

"You don't even like sex. What are you doing?"

"Experimenting. Besides, I like watching you come. It's agreeable to me."

"Well, I'm not your performing monkey. Off," John said.

But Sherlock ignored him, paying attention to John's erection instead. Of course John was responding; he always responded to Sherlock. He still said, "No. Stop."

"You like this. You had the most enjoyment of any act, measured with respect to effort and time expended." Sherlock kept stroking him, hands on naked flesh, and John hardened, but that wasn't the point. John caught his wrists and twisted. "Ow!" Sherlock yelped. "What?"

"Sherlock, what you did, right then, was sexually assault me," John told him.

Sherlock hissed in his ear and wrenched himself out of John's grasp. "Don't be absurd. We're together." He stroked John's chin, started to grab.

"Right." What Sherlock always forgot was that even though John was smaller, he was meaner and better trained. John demonstrated, putting Sherlock face-first into the carpet with both hands trapped behind him. John pinned Sherlock with a knee in his back, set his phone on the carpet beside them, and called Lestrade.

"Hello?"

"Hi, it's John. Can you settle a debate for us?" John asked, putting Lestrade on speakerphone. "When a couple is in a long-term committed relationship, can one partner still refuse sex if they so desire?"

"Yes. Ignoring the word 'no' and continuing would be considered rape even if consent has been given in the past. Consent can be revoked at any time. Do I need to come over there?" Lestrade asked. Not a stupid man, not by a long shot.

"No, no problem. Just clearing up a point for Captain Oblivious. Goodnight." John hung up the call. Sherlock was strangely quiet.

John let him go and sat beside him. He tugged his underwear up over his cock. Sherlock didn't sit up. "I just raped you?" he asked.

"I'm putting it down as crossed wires."

Sherlock closed his eyes and slammed his palms on the floor. "I don't understand!"

"I know you don't."

"I did exactly the same thing she did. Our relationship is stronger. Why didn't you like it?" Sherlock opened his eyes and looked up at him. "You did like it. I could feel that. What's the difference?" Sherlock moved into John's lap, hand on his thigh, staring into his eyes.

"No idea," John said.

Sherlock's eyes flickered over his face. Sherlock bared his teeth as if he were about to speak, or to bite him, and he shifted further up into his face, both hands on John's thighs now. John just looked back.

He could handle whatever Sherlock came up with here. He half expected Sherlock to ask to hurt him (because he would ask, if he wanted to hurt John, because those lines were very clear in Sherlock's mind; someone went to a lot of trouble training Sherlock, and John suspected that someone's name was Mycroft). He wasn't sure what his answer would be; no, probably, unless the answer was yes.

Sherlock closed his eyes. "First principles," he said. "May I kiss you?"

"Yes," John said, and Sherlock kissed him. First kiss. Closed mouthed. Felt natural, like they'd been doing this all along. Sherlock leaned on his thighs, putting painful pressure on his crossed legs. John opened his mouth, letting Sherlock in; but Sherlock didn't take the hint (of course not, not his area) and just sighed into his mouth as they parted.

Stayed close, very close, nose nudging against John's as they breathed. "If I rub against you with any part of my body you don't object," Sherlock said. "I've compiled a list."

Of course he had. "I'd like to see that list," John said.

"Not now." Sherlock stared into his eyes, just inches away. John could see the thready blood vessels in his eyes, the red irritation of the left conjunctiva (dust in his eye, he'd rubbed it rather than rinsing), the tiny striations of icy blue muscle in the iris. "May I always kiss you or is that a situational assent?"

"Always," John said. "But if you kiss me at a crime scene, you're going to get ribbed by the police."

"I could not possibly care less about that," Sherlock said.

"Hugging is always allowed. Though, again, at a crime scene--"

"There are other things to do at crime scenes." Sherlock kissed him again, this time darting his tongue over John's lips. John wondered what he was trying to work out. "Define hugging."

"You know what hugging is." Sherlock bared his teeth in annoyance. "Don't even try," John said. "You know about context and appropriateness and the meaning of physical contact, you just don't want to apply it to yourself."

Sherlock sighed. He placed his hand on John's shoulder and rubbed their cheeks together, then stroked his chest against John's, flexible as a snake; he slid his legs around and curled his thigh against John's side, finally relaxing when John embraced his shoulders. "All okay," John said.

"Yes, you didn't put me in an arm lock that time."

"I can tell you what the difference is," John said.

Sherlock clasped his shoulder painfully. "Yes, do," he growled.

"You actually wanted to cuddle me, and you didn't want to fuck me. You don't. You never have."

"What possible difference could that make to you?"

John shook his head. He didn't know how to explain the give and take of wanting, giving, wanting, so he didn't try. He just held Sherlock, rubbing his neck, until Sherlock relaxed and they both sprawled on the sides on the floor.

Sherlock shifted again, straddling John's legs, but then groaned and shoved up onto his elbows over John. He laced his hands over John's head so that he held John's entire body in a cage of his limbs. "Why? What makes you different?" he demanded of John. "Seven and a half million people in this city and you're the only one I even notice."

"Can't help you there. I think I'm boring as anything," John said.

"Yes, but you're an idiot," Sherlock said. He closed his eyes and touched his forehead to John's.

And didn't move. Right. Apparently John was a sofa now. His clothes were still open, but that could wait; he rested his hands in Sherlock's trouser pockets and relaxed.

Until he heard the feet on the stairs. "Hup. Let me up," John said, shoving Sherlock's hip.

"It's Lestrade. He phoned Mrs. Hudson to let him in. Doesn't matter."

"He's here because he thinks you might be raping me. it might help to see us in some kind of normal--hell. Hiya," John said, squirming out from under Sherlock as Lestrade reached the top of the stairs. Sherlock rolled over onto his back and put his hands on his eyes.

"Everything all right?" Lestrade asked.

"Yeah." John zipped up his jeans and tried to close his shirt. Missing buttons. No, that didn't look at all suspicious.

"If you think I'm just going to ignore a call like that, you're mad. Where's Miss Morstan?"

"Not here," John said.

"Mind if I check?" His expression was closed; investigating, not really trusting him.

"Be my guest."

Lestrade jogged upstairs to check the bedrooms. John found his mobile (Sherlock's phone was in John's trouser pocket, which meant his own phone was in Sherlock's coat) and called Tai.

"Late." she answered. "Bed. Fuck off."

"Sorry, pet, Lestrade just needs to check we haven't murdered you."

"Fiiiiine," she groaned. John held out the phone as Lestrade descended the stairs.

"Sorry to bother you, miss, I just received a very strange phone call," Lestrade said. He listened. "Thank you, miss. Goodnight," he said, and handed John back his phone. "What the hell is going on?"

"I've been excluded as a boyfriend due to the fact that I don't engage in orgasms. It's unjust. I'm willing to put out and want nothing in return, I'm perfect!" Sherlock said, rolling over and glaring at John. "Absolutely perfect!" He slapped his palm on the floor.

"Sorry. Shouldn't have called you," John said. Sherlock stood and grabbed a glass paperweight off the desk. He tossed it from hand to hand fretfully.

"Well, here I am. Not my first domestic. Let's have it out."

"Er," John said. "No offense, but I'd rather not."

Sherlock paced back to John. "I'm well aware that I'm high maintenance! Not requiring orgasms makes me lower maintenance and a better partner!" He crowded John against the wall until John squared his shoulders and stopped letting him. "I can turn you on and get you off."

"Not actually the point," John said, wishing desperately that Lestrade would just leave, but Lestrade was watching them carefully, like one of them might go off. "I already explained my point."

"I don't accept it. It doesn't make any sense."

"Sherlock." Lestrade said, quietly, "Accepting the word no isn't optional."

"Of course it is!" Sherlock yelled at Lestrade. "If I listened to you every time you told me no, we'd never have gotten anywhere!" Sherlock gestured with the paperweight.

"Now, that really wasn't good," John said. Sherlock turned back, wide-eyed.

"Is there anything I should know about in my professional capacity?" Lestrade asked John.

"No," John said. He wasn't the slightest bit afraid of Sherlock. Should be. Wasn't. "Sherlock, do you really think you can argue me into a relationship?"

Sherlock wrinkled his nose. "No. You're far too irrational. If you haven't seen the merit by now, you never will."

"Then what's all this in aid of?"

"UNREQUITED LOVE!" Sherlock shouted at the top of his voice. He whirled and stalked across the room, slamming himself into the leather chair so hard he skidded a foot across the floor. "It's horrible!"

John groaned and rubbed his neck. "It's--you don't want to shag me, Sherlock!"

"So?"

"Oh, God, have you eaten?" John suddenly realized. "No wonder you've gone off the rails. He'll be all right once I get some dinner in him, thanks," he said to Lestrade.

But Lestrade sat down in the other chair. "Believe me, I have nowhere better to be. If I left here and one of you turned up stabbed, I'd be a laughingstock."

"Fine. Just don't ask any questions you don't want the answer to," John said, checking the fridge. "Oh, you're in luck. Mrs. Hudson's been." He pulled out chicken curry and almond rice and popped the curry in the microwave.

Sherlock's stomach rumbled. He got up and stalked into the kitchen, leaning over John's shoulder and grabbing some rice with his fingers. "My performance doesn't alter because of hunger. Food slows me down when I'm working."

"Yes, I know, and then you collapse when you're done."

"Fainted into my arms once," Lestrade said.

"Tripped," Sherlock snapped.

"Over your own shoe, fell into my arms, swooned for a full minute, had to be revived with strong tea and a biscuit. You fainted."

Sherlock grabbed some more rice with his fingers. John elbowed him out of the way and dished out three plates; Sherlock took his plate back to the leather chair, while John and Lestrade sat at the table like civilised men. "Only questions I want to know the answer to?" Lestrade asked John.

"Yeah."

"Like what the hell are you two arguing about, exactly? No, wait. Sherlock wants you all to himself, but not for sex--"

"He's asexual," John said.

"So you have a girlfriend."

"Very nice woman. Older than Sherlock, though you wouldn't know it to look at the two of them."

Lestrade tapped his fork against his lip. The look on his face wasn't that much unlike Sherlock's when he was thinking. "And Miss Morstan, she's an adventurous sort. She works in a sex shop, she tied up Sherlock--what, does she tie him to the chair so you and her can have some private time?"

"Nothing so decorous," Sherlock said.

John exploded. "Decorous! From you! Decorous!"

Sherlock was stuffing his face as fast as he could. He still managed to say, with perfect diction: "She has her way with him right in front of me. I've been roped into their sexual games."

"Your fault! You wouldn't let me go upstairs!" John said.

Lestrade raised his eyebrows and didn't say anything.

"You could have waited!" Sherlock said.

"I didn't want to!"

"I need you to myself!" Sherlock stalked back into the kitchen with his empty plate.

"Well that's not on offer, so I suggest you get over it," John said. "Apply your cold bloody logical reasoning to that!" Sherlock looked at John, bared his teeth, and stole his plate. "Hey!"

"You said I need food, Doctor. Make up your mind." Sherlock flung himself back into the chair.

John looked at the ceiling, reminded himself he was sitting across from a police officer, and got up to dish up more food onto Sherlock's plate. "You were right to stay," he told Lestrade. "I might stab him after all."

"Like you could," Sherlock muttered.

John didn't answer. He could. He'd killed three people to his sure and certain knowledge, and of course there was no counting stray bullets and lingering wounds. Sherlock knew this.

"Now you're fantasizing about murdering me," Sherlock said.

"Strangling you with my bare hands. You'd go blue, and your tongue would stick out and go black, and you'd shit yourself. I'd break your hyoid bone with my thumb," John said, wiggling his left thumb in the air. "You'd kick, but lose strength quickly, and I know where to apply pressure. You'd dig your nails into my hands and, I think, my face, because you fight dirty, and go for the eyes; you have the reach on me. So I might lose an eye, but it would be worth it, because I would finally get some peace and fucking quiet."

John went back to his curry. Across the table, Lestrade wasn't eating, and across the room, neither was Sherlock.

Sherlock put his plate down; John looked at him; Sherlock crossed back into the kitchen, sat in John's lap, and kissed him, open mouthed. His tongue licked into John's mouth, tasting and pushing at him, growling in the back of his throat.

"Oh, I'm much less worried now," Lestrade said.

Sherlock looked at him. "Oh, come on, that was so hot," he said roughly, and he kissed John's cheek.

"And he honestly doesn't have sex? It looks like you're in," Lestrade said.

"I'd fuck you raw," Sherlock growled. He stuck his tongue in John's ear.

John planted a hand in Sherlock's chest and pushed him away. "Answer's still no."

"He makes a good case," Lestrade said.

"See, even the police think we should be together," Sherlock said.

John cupped Sherlock's crotch. For all the kissing, all his words, there was still no reaction. "No."

"I call that unfair," Sherlock said.

"I don't," John said. "You're faking enthusiasm. It's a lie."

"Technicalities. That was marvellous," Sherlock said, standing up from John's lap.

John finished his dinner. So did Sherlock. So did Lestrade. "We're not going to kill each other. Maybe some light battery, but I'll keep it out of Casualty," John said.

"I'm holding you to that," Lestrade said. "Thanks for supper."

*

John went to bed alone, but Sherlock followed him after a shower, a wet clean-smelling presence moving through the dark room. Sherlock settled on the other side of the bed, on a separate pillow.

"John," Sherlock said.

"We'll talk in the morning." He was angry, but even angry, he wanted Sherlock in his bed. To see him. To feel his warmth. Sherlock had done it, wormed his way into John's bed, trousers, and heart, will-he nil-he.

Sherlock reached across the bed and found his hand; held it in the dark, silently, until John fell asleep.

*

wrist to arm, leg, calf, chest, head
ankle to ankle, foot
chest to chest, back, leg [thigh only]
hand to neck and all socially acceptable zones
foot to foot, leg [calf and thigh], arm, hand, chest, stomach, hip [interesting]
lips [categorized as kissing]
groin [categorized as frottage]

*

Chapter Text

*

John woke up first. Sherlock was sleeping so deeply he was dribbling on the pillow. Post-case crash, and this was a good one. Sherlock would be hungry, sleepy, and pleasant for the next few days.

He called in to work; no work to be had. Fine. He'd pretend he was a proper doctor anyway and catch up on his medical literature.

Sherlock emerged a few hours later, yawning, with his hair looking like a Dr. Seuss character's. His careful, glossy waves had dried into mad knotted swoops. His fringe corkscrewed straight out from his forehead.

Sherlock grabbed the leftover curry from the fridge and sat at the desk across from John. He slumped in the chair, rested his feet on John's lap under the desk, and smiled, eating the cold curry straight from the container.

"Still friends," John said.

Sherlock smiled again. "I should be bored of you by now, but I'm not."

"Have you calmed down?" John asked.

Sherlock inhaled, let it out. "You're necessary to me. I'm willing to compromise."

"Good," John said.

"I don't dislike her."

"I know. You're not subtle about who you dislike."

"But she's not you," Sherlock said, with a heat in his voice that made John wish hard, so very hard, that things were different. He squeezed Sherlock's ankle under the table.

Sherlock finished his curry. "Let's go for a walk," he said.

"A walk? Is there a case at the end?"

"No. Just a walk. I thought we might go to Hyde Park and neck obnoxiously."

"What an excellent idea," John said.

They both dressed. Sherlock didn't have a mirror in his room. John was sorely tempted to take advantage of Sherlock's post-case somnolence and let him walk outside with his hair run wild, but--no; instead he cleared his throat and gently steered Sherlock to the mirror over the fireplace. "Good LORD," Sherlock said.

"I was wondering when you would notice."

Sherlock ran his fingers through his hair several times, making it worse. "Hat," he decided.

"It's summer," John pointed out.

"Ah," Sherlock said. Instead, he tied his hair back with a silk scarf, which should have looked girlish and silly, but instead made him look like a bohemian art student type. Now his frizzy, fly-away curls looked intentional and John looked like his dad. The man was insufferable sometimes.

Well, sod it. John held out his hand and Sherlock took it. His right hand, Sherlock's left, guarding each other's weak sides.

He felt Sherlock look at him several times as they walked down Baker Street, but neither of them said anything. Pigeons. Traffic. Other people. All the things he couldn't bear to leave behind. He could have taken his pension to Scotland, maybe gone back to the miserable little town his grandfather worked so hard to extricate the family from back in the forties, lived well on no money. But he had to stay here. He'd known, in the back of his mind, he would never make it anywhere else.

Hyde Park was green and pastoral. John found a comfortable tree and seated himself. Sherlock studied him. "Ah. You've taken the dominant role, quite naturally given that you've been exclusively heterosexual previously. Legs parted for access, but not so much as to be crude. A marked difference from your behaviour at home," Sherlock said.

"Are you going to sit?"

"Once I determine the correct attitude. I could sit on your lap, but--"

"Not for a minute. You can lay on me but not sit on me. Your bony arse will leave bruises."

Sherlock pursed his lips. "I'm slim and attractively muscled. Never bony. You chose the spot well. There's a promising tree root beside you." And he finally sat, folding his bony (not "slim" though John conceded "muscled") limbs beside John. John held out his arm as Sherlock sat, guiding him into a comfortable embrace. "Highly decorous," Sherlock said. "Gentlemanly. You're sluttish at home, opening everything up and flinging yourself about." Insult? No, that would have a more cutting tone. Observation. Fond observation, even.

"We're in public. We're not going to shag. Can we talk about something other than sex?" John asked.

"No," Sherlock said. "I'm attempting to arouse you enough that you forget your misgivings and have your way with me."

John laughed. "You make no fucking sense at all," he said. He stroked Sherlock's shoulder, feeling fine cotton and hard muscle. "How often do you work out? Man of Steel here."

"During the course of the day, five minutes at a time. That way I'm always prepared and it keeps up my stamina. Complimenting my body, that's an excellent sign." Sherlock smiled and covered John's hand. His thin fingertips danced along the ball of John's thumb. "I assure you I'm entirely ready to surrender my innocence."

John pulled back. "Right, that's weird."

Sherlock chased him, scooting closer, grinning wider. "My untouched body," he purred into John's ear. "My virgin flower. My rosebud of chastity."

John stood his ground and spoke against Sherlock's cheek. "It's been touched. You touch yourself all the time. I can hear you, you know." Sherlock was unshaven. His beard had a reddish hue like his eyebrows.

"Wrong. Faulty conclusions from available evidence. Reexamine your train of logic." Sherlock flicked his tongue against John's earlobe.

"Ah... five minutes of faint, rhythmic thumping, sometimes combined with grunting--" John sighed, irritated with himself. "Exercising."

"Incomplete information leads you to the wrong conclusion. I've never orgasmed." Sherlock rubbed his nose against John's neck. "You smell delicious."

"Mm, thank you. So do you. No cologne; is that your hair gel?" Never orgasmed, his brain echoed back at him. But--it wasn't like the method was tricky; that was Sherlock's choice. He let it go.

"You do my shopping. You know everything that surrounds me."

Which was unbearably intimate when Sherlock said it like that. John touched his lips to Sherlock's cheek. "Not your beauty products, princess. You buy those from your stylist."

Sherlock huffed a short laugh into his skin. "Do you feminize me because it makes you more comfortable or because you truly find me feminine?" Shouldn't be coquettish. But spoken in a low voice, with Sherlock's pale eyes at half mast, it really rather was.

"I find you slightly effeminate, mostly because of the hair." John touched the silk scarf holding back Sherlock's curls. "And you care about how you look. Care a lot. No, I don't find you feminine, I find you gay."

Sherlock pulled them closer, sliding his bent knees further into John's lap. "Intentional. It puts women off and men are easier to turn down. I'm often pursued," he said.

"So you said."

"But this is the first time I've been the pursuer."

John caught his breath. Sherlock's eyes narrowed and he kissed John's mouth, clasping their hands together. Breaths of wind in his hair. Distant voices. Birds singing. French tourists--John broke away, giggling to himself. "What?" Sherlock asked.

"French tourists gawping at English lovers." He nodded to the group on the path.

"Hm." Sherlock smiled. He kissed John's palm. He was better at this than he should be--of course, he spied on people incessantly for his work.

"Who are you emulating?" John asked.

"Hm?"

"You're copying someone, some great seducer. Anyone I know?"

"Don't be absurd," Sherlock said, and he kissed John's palm again.

John couldn't be angry; this was Sherlock's method, it was the way he worked. But--"I would rather you act like yourself."

Sherlock raised his eyes. "I am."

"I can tell when you're acting. Right now it's charming, because you're making the effort, but you can't keep it up, and you're not fooling me."

No longer flirting, even though they were twined as closely as twins in the womb. "John. I underestimate you," Sherlock said.

"Be truthful with me," John said.

"Because I can."

"Because you can."

"I was emulating a man I saw in a gay club while surveilling. He was nothing to look at, but he pulled anyone he wanted, even the most desirable men in the room. Night after night. I was never able to hear what he said, but I have his gestures stored."

"In case seducing a man would ever come up on a case," John sighed.

"I'm trying them on you because I'm amenable, John."

"But you don't want to," John said.

"I haven't in the past, but--"

"You don't want to," John repeated.

Sherlock pulled back. He frowned, examining John for a moment.

"Working out how to manipulate me into what you want?" John asked.

"This should be easier. I'm much more intelligent. I know everything about you."

John grinned. "Sweet talker."

"When I speak sweetly, you accuse me of acting. When I speak rudely, you become more fond. What would you do if I abused you?"

"I don't know," John said. He didn't. The old John would have been hurt and written him off as a friend. The new John--he didn't know. He didn't know the new him. He might be turned on, even.

"I had best work that out before I try. Could be ugly." Sherlock leaned in and kissed him. Soft lips. Sweet breath. He paused, and John took the reins, showing Sherlock how to kiss.

John was a good kisser. Sherlock was a good learner. So in a short (relaxed, sunny, gentle) time, Sherlock was a good kisser too. "Mm. Is this what you expected?" John asked him.

"No. I enjoy kissing more than I thought. I enjoy physical closeness with you more than other people."

"Did you actually like those other people you kissed?"

"Not particularly."

"There you are, then," John said, and kissed him again.

"Yes, it's entirely different with you... you've cured me, you're the one!" Sherlock said. "You make it all different!"

John looked at him. Absolute sincerity shone on Sherlock's face, the bastard. "Stop that."

Sherlock smiled. "This level of intimacy is remarkably pleasant due to my insatiable interest in your body."

"Mm. Would you like me under a microscope?"

"Very much."

"Too bad we're in a park." John kissed him, and Sherlock kissed him back, smiling and happy.

Inevitably, his leg fell asleep. Sherlock bounced to his feet the moment John voiced his pain and helped him up. John leaned on his shoulder and flexed his leg. "That didn't happen when I was eighteen," he sighed.

"Yes, but I would have hated you at eighteen," Sherlock said.

"Probably. I was dull. Thought about nothing but biology and--applied biology. When I wasn't revising for my A levels, I was shagging."

Sherlock made a pained sound. "Youth," he said. "Can you walk?"

John nodded, and they did, hand in hand, as lovers did.

Halfway around the park, Sherlock fished his phone out of his pocket and handed it to John; it was vibrating. "King Claudius," the display read. John answered, "Sherlock's Holmes's secretary."

"Hello, John," Mycroft said. "Isn't it a lovely morning?"

"It is. Do you have us on the cameras? Sherlock's hair looks like Little Orphan Annie gone goth." John smiled up at Sherlock.

"Your relationship with my brother disgusts me," Sherlock said.

"I understand the two--no, the three of you--are 'giving it a whirl,'" Mycroft said. John could hear the quotation marks. "I never thought I would see the day."

"Is this the protective big brother speech? I've given that a few times, you know."

"Oh no. We're well past that point. No, in fact, I have a job for Sherlock. I need to know why someone is untrustworthy."

"Not if?" John said.

"No. I can see that for myself. The why is slightly more difficult."

"Is this going to result in anyone being sent to Guantanamo Bay?"

"Certainly not. We keep our nationals at home."

John shook his head, bumped his shoulder against Sherlock's arm. "We'll take a look tomorrow."

"We'll do nothing of the sort," Sherlock said.

"Today I have therapy, and besides, we're tired. Need a rest and some tea."

"And some sex?" Mycroft added. His accent made it sound like some other kind of activity entirely, like chess or a especially vigorous game of croquet.

"No; Sherlock still doesn't indulge. Might spoon, though."

"What delightful plans. Good morning." Mycroft disconnected. John put Sherlock's phone back in Sherlock's pocket.

"I'm not taking the case."

"We need the money. I'll do it if you won't."

Sherlock sighed in exasperation and put his arm around John.

*

John made a sandwich (cheese and chutney, expecting Sherlock to object on aesthetic grounds, shocked when Sherlock ignored it) to fortify himself for therapy. He brought a wedge of cheese and an apple to Sherlock at the desk.

Sherlock sat cross-legged in the desk chair catching up on the Internet. He read a lot of blogs and advice columns. A peerless peek into human interaction, he said. "How do you sit like that without harming yourself?" John asked. Sherlock looked at him under his eyelashes and switched into a lotus position. John hurt just looking at him.

"Tai found my Facebook. How?" Sherlock asked. He wriggled his toes atop his knees. "Clever woman."

Clearly not by searching on his name, John thought, and he picked up his sandwich and peeked over Sherlock's shoulder.

Sherlock's Facebook icon was an orchid. His Facebook alias was... "Ashley Bedlington?" John read out.

"I have my website under my own name. Other places, it's more interesting to use an alias."

"Ashley. ASHLEY."

"Yes," Sherlock said.

"BEDLINGTON."

Sherlock looked at him. John cracked up, falling to his knees beside the chair. "It's not that funny," Sherlock said.

"It is, it absolutely is, it is, I love it, BEDLINGTON!" John cried, supporting himself against the seat of the chair.

Sherlock watched him flail. "You've gone red as a radish."

John slapped his thigh and giggled.

"Ashley is a unisex name, actually. Ashley Wilkes." But he was smiling, slightly, and he reached down and stroked John's hair.

When John got his breath back, he read over Sherlock's shoulder, and found that Sherlock had a chat window open on Facebook and was talking to Tai.

Ashley: Hi cutie, I don't think we've met
Tai: I saw you naked the night b4 last
Ashley: LOL do you have a telescope?
Tai: next time I see you, I'm going to tie you up and make you say my name
Ashley: OOH NASTY
Tai: you bet your ass, Miss Jackson
Ashley: What else are you going to do?
Tai: isn't that enough?
Ashley: LOL no
Tai: I'm going to fuck your bf and you're going to watch

"Why are you in character?" John asked.

"Fun," Sherlock replied.

"Oh, right."

Ashley: My BF is the hottest
Tai: tell him I love his donkey dick
Ashley: LOL who r u????
Tai: your deepest, wettest, most secret fantasy

"So many possible responses," Sherlock said, grinning at the screen.

"Sorry, I haven't read past 'donkey dick,'" John said.

Ashley: OMG I'm not like that
Tai: I'll fix that
Ashley: What are you going to do???
Tai: what are you wearing?

Sherlock paused. "Negligee," John suggested. Sherlock rolled his eyes.

Ashley: Yoga pants and hoodie
Tai: Not any more. I unzipped your hoodie. Your tits are out. I tied your hands behind your back.
Ashley: OMG now what?
Tai: Now I took off your trousers and you're naked. I tied you down on the coffee table, one limb to each leg.
Ashley: I'm screaming!
Tai: That's fine. Nobody can hear.
Ashley: Then what???
Tai: Then your boyfriend comes home. He sees you. He says oh please, don't hurt her, I'll do anything.
Ashley: My BF is the best!
Tai: So I tell him I'll let you go if he sucks my dick. He's scared. He's never done it before.

"I have to go to therapy. Forward me that when you're done," John said. "And I'll point out you listed yourself as female, princess."

"Fun," Sherlock said again.

*

Ella's office was so damn beige. It made them float in their chairs like an isolation tank, contextless. Not like the Baker Street flat, which was a walk-in version of Sherlock's brain. (John shouldn't feel cozy there. Did.)

Ella asked about his love life.

"I left Sherlock and Tai cybersexing each other," John said.

"How is the arrangement working?"

"Fits and starts. Sherlock went a bit mental on me last night."

"Go on."

"And I went mad in return. Shouting, nearly came to blows. I never shouted at anyone before Afghanistan. I never used to fight like that. I was Mr. Calm and Reasonable."

Ella nodded. John continued: "But last night, I told Sherlock how I would kill him, with my bare hands, with full medical details. And I could see it. And I wanted to do it."

"But didn't."

"No. But I wanted to. And--Sherlock has been diagnosed as a sociopath. He's under control, he functions very well, but I think he has a violent streak behind that control. And--" I killed a man for him, he didn't say. Couldn't say. That would give her an obligation to report. He sighed.

"What was his reaction?"

"He was turned on--well, sort of. He doesn't--" John gestured toward his groin. "But he found it appealing. He sat in my lap and kissed me."

Ella nodded. "And your concern is?"

"That we bring the violence out of each other."

"Have you hit him?"

"No."

"Does he cause you to do violence to other people?"

"I told you about the assassin. I put an arrow through his chest."

Ella tilted her head, listening.

"It was an accident... the way that I killed him. I wanted him dead," John said softly. "I wanted him dead for what he'd done."

"Who else have you wanted dead?"

"The--hell, that's classified; you know what I mean, early last year. Didn't have the opportunity to kill him." The cabbie, the cabbie, the cabbie, but he can't confess. "Sherlock sometimes. That bastard from the oranges murder."

"I notice you didn't mention anyone in Afghanistan."

John swallowed. "No."

"Not even the woman who shot you."

"No." There was no desire to kill her, just instinct, and what was left was only shame. He had pride over killing the cabbie. He saved Sherlock's life. He executed a murderer.

Ella glanced at the clock. "Do you feel you're in a crisis? I can stay over."

"No--no, I'm not going to murder anyone on the way home."

"I was asking if you were upset and wanted to stay a little longer," Ella said gently. "Here." Handing him the tissues, damn. He took one; he wasn't crying, but he couldn't see his own face, could he?

"The side effect of becoming more emotionally open is that you begin to feel things you didn't allow yourself to feel at the time," Ella said.

"Yeah," John said. "I might need a minute." His face was hot, burning. His stomach hurt. But he put the tissues down, because he didn't have any tears.

*

John returned home exhausted. Sherlock was still on the computer but had moved to the sofa; he shifted to make room for John and John dropped down with his head in Sherlock's lap.

"You stayed an extra twenty minutes. Why? You don't need therapy. You're sane as a brick," Sherlock said. He rested his computer on John's bad shoulder. The heat felt wonderful.

"According to the madman."

"I'm not mad. I have a personality disorder. Not the same thing."

"Would you come with me some time?" John asked.

"No."

"Please."

"I saw my share. I'm a grown man now, with right of refusal, and I refuse."

"It's not for you. I talk to Ella about my relationships, and you're the most important one I have."

"No."

John sighed. "I wish you were nicer to me," he said, curling a hand around Sherlock's knee. Sherlock huffed in disgust.

*

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: SH is a cock

But I read your chat over his shoulder and, well. Best girlfriend ever.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: SH is a rock

I really like him.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: SH is a frock

Really? Most people... don't. I'm not even sure if I LIKE him. Love him but not like him most days.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: SH is a clock

Well, he's a genius and a pervert and has a fantastic sense of humour.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: SH is a dock

And he's critical and vicious and uses his brain like a bludgeon.

I asked him to come to therapy with me and he turned me down flat. I ask hardly anything of him.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: in seriousness

I need to tell you Sherlock claims to be a sociopath. I'm not an expert, but I don't think he is. He does have real empathy, no matter how much he shoves it down.

But you should know.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: in seriousness

Huh. Thanks. I'll get back to you on that.

*

Chapter Text

*

"Eugh," Sherlock said, passing the photograph to John.

"Ugh," John said, looking at Jerry Penwidge's weaselly little face. "Why would you hire this man?"

"Keep your friends close, keep your... whatever he is closer," Mycroft said.

"He was being courted by the opposition?" Sherlock asked.

"Precisely."

For a man under suspicion by a Holmes, Penwidge moved about surprisingly openly. They tracked him first to church, then doubled back and searched the house (open bedroom window, appalling, it was only on the first floor); then watched him as he kissed his wife and departed for afternoon golf... Or, instead, to his second wife.

"He snared two women. Two." John said. "Two. With that face."

"Money is an aphrodisiac, apparently," Sherlock said.

The second house was under the name of Stewart. John bet on Stewart being the fake name; Sherlock bet on Penwidge; they were both wrong, and his name was Clemdon, as they found when they searched his fingerprints on the American database. He was wanted for fraud in Texas.

"Did that seem easy to you?" John asked Sherlock in the cab.

"It all seems easy to me after--him," Sherlock said.

"But especially easy."

"Mycroft looked at my bank balance and decided I needed some spending money. He meddles. I told you not to take the case."

Which made perfect sense. All the more so when he saw the size of the check Mycroft gave him.

*

Things I have EVER asked you:
To warn me if there are body parts in the fridge.
To respect closed doors.
Not to pretend we're gay together, and that's now rescinded since it's not pretending.
To come to therapy with me.--JW

To clean things that aren't dirty
Not to confuse jellies
Not to correct your grammar even when it physically hurts me
To be nice.--SH

When you care about someone, you try to improve their little flaws.--JW

Cf: grammar--SH

*

Tai phoned John. "Why does he think he's a sociopath?"

"He told me he was diagnosed when he was thirteen."

"Everyone's a sociopath at thirteen," Tai said.

"Yeah. I don't think he is. I don't think he's been reevaluated; he despises psychiatrists."

Tai paused. John let her think. "I kind of like being with people with all their issues in the open, rather than having to work them out as we go along," she said.

"Well, you know about my PTSD. I don't think there's anything left to tell. No secret children or anything."

"My ex was a sociopath."

"I'm sorry," John said.

"Sherlock doesn't remind me of him. And I like you. And the sex is fantastic."

"Oh, God, yes," John said.

"So I'm staying," Tai said.

*

From: Sherlock Holmes
To: Mary "Tai" Morstan
Subject: Lessons

All my past experiences have indicated to me that I am asexual, but my current relationship with John forces me to reexamine this conclusion. I would appreciate a guide in this endeavour.

Are you in?

From: Tai
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: Re: Lessons

In.

*

A day of work, fly the flags, blow the trumpets. And he didn't fall asleep on his desk. He saw every single patient. The fact that he was bored to tears was irrelevant.

He stopped at the supermarket, bought bread and milk. Came home. Found Sherlock and Tai sitting side by side, naked, on the sofa. "Hiya," John said.

"Hiya," Tai said.

"So..." John tried to formulate a question, failed. He put the bread and milk in the fridge instead. Oh good. No severed heads. An array of rats in jars, but he didn't worry himself over anything securely contained.

Sherlock grunted. When John looked over, he found Sherlock with his legs drawn up under his chin, looking irritated. The whip marks on his thigh had healed to rough red lines. "We've been trying to have sex. Nothing has worked," Sherlock said. "We had a conversation instead."

"I didn't think you would mind," Tai said to John.

"No; not mind as such, but you do know that Mrs. Hudson lives just downstairs, and all the doors are open?"

"And?" Sherlock said.

"So threesome is my limit," John said.

"Ageist," Tai said.

John crossed into the sitting room and kissed her. "What did you try?"

"Clothed sexy, naked sexy."

"Visual, oral, and manual stimulation. I don't respond to her," Sherlock said.

"I'm not desirable," Tai said, pulling a woeful face.

"Bollocks," John said.

She climbed into his arms; they wound up in the velvet armchair, John's favourite, with the Union Jack pillow under her arse. She rode his cock with spirit and gusto.

Meanwhile, Sherlock put on a dressing gown and took up pen and paper.

*

to do:
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage
fellatio [receiving and performing]
cunnilingus
anal sex, manual [receiving]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]

*

They had dinner, Sherlock and Tai still in dressing gowns. Takeaway Chinese. John made the run to the end of the block; least he could do for his lady.

"How far are you willing to go, John?" Sherlock asked.

"I've never wanted to have sex with a man before," John said.

"But?" Tai said.

"But Sherlock is different," he said. "I don't know how far I'll go until I've gone."

"I want to experiment more. I want one of you to penetrate me," Sherlock said.

Tai raised her hand. "Me. Me. Me."

John raised his hand too, looking at Tai.

"Your cock is too big," Tai said.

"Oh. Yeah, for a first time, that would be a bit much," John admitted.

So John wound up on his bed with Sherlock in his lap, arse up, next to Tai drizzling lube across a gloved hand. "I know you've tried this before," John said.

"I have."

"What happened?"

Sherlock looked up at him. "Incomplete. The man decided I was creepy and the woman decided I was gay."

"You are gay," Tai said.

"Inconclusive," Sherlock said, and rested his head in John's lap again. John stroked his hair. Tai stroked his back. "Do you have to touch me?" Sherlock asked.

"Yes," Tai said.

"Fuck me already," Sherlock said.

"Fuck you but don't touch you?"

"Only touch me as far as you have to," Sherlock said. Tai shrugged and slipped one finger inside Sherlock. He grunted against John's leg.

"It's not meant to be a chore," John said. He stroked Sherlock's hair; Sherlock took his hand and sucked on his fingers.

"Good?" Tai asked.

"Yeah, go on," John said.

She tried a couple more fingers, stroking Sherlock's arse, stroking his inner thigh. "Give you a hand? Either of you?" John asked.

Sherlock took John's hand out of his mouth and nodded without looking at him.

John reached down with his wet fingers and stroked Sherlock's cock. Well, so that was another man's cock. Smaller. Softer. John worked the foreskin, trying to get a little more excitement, trying to help his friend.

Fine. Giving his friend a hand job. Sherlock was looking away; he wanted Sherlock's eyes on his face, wanted to see Sherlock gasp and dilate and pant and come. Not wholly straight. He could go further.

"Safeword," Sherlock said. John dropped his hand; Tai pulled out. Sherlock scrambled off the bed and paced up and down, up and down, and rested with his back against the closed door. "It became absurd and disgusting," Sherlock said.

"No problem," Tai said. "Was there anything you liked?"

Sherlock looked at John, looked away. "Not yet."

*

to do:
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage
fellatio [receiving and performing]
cunnilingus
anilingus
hand job [
receiving and performing]
anal sex, manual [receiving]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]

*

John sat, naked, in the kitchen among Sherlock's other experiments. Should have been a turn off; wasn't.

Tai stood behind him, watching his cock. Sherlock knelt in front of him, stroking John's erection thoughtfully. He leaned in and sniffed the head.

"Just have a good play. You're working out what you like," Tai said. "Try messing about with his foreskin. That always gives me a laugh."

And John was just their sexual plaything. Again, should have been a turn off; wasn't. He dropped his head back against Tai's bosom.

"What? What did I do? You liked that," Sherlock said.

John smiled. "I like being you two's sex toy." He slumped in the chair, spreading his legs wider.

"Right. The third variable: His physical response curve, my actions, his mental activity; makes it more complicated," Sherlock muttered, and he jacked John faster. Felt good. Sherlock leaned in, pressing his nose to John's groin; stubble on his inner thigh, Jesus. "Very good response," Sherlock murmured. He took his hand away and licked John's cock.

"Oh, yes," John said.

Tai hugged John's neck and pressed her cheek to his. "No teeth, use your hand, lick him, don't try to swallow right away," she told Sherlock. Sherlock gripped the base of John's cock again, licked his head, mouthed the shaft, and then John lost track; soft lips, wet tongue, strong hands, all good, plus Tai's hands on his chest, pinning him down, and then looking down at Sherlock's hair, that was excellent. When Sherlock looked up at him, calculating, evaluating, John inhaled and nearly came. "Figure out if you want him to come in your mouth. Quick," Tai said.

Sherlock wrapped his lips around John's cock. Tai sneaked a hand down and pinched John's nipple. John figured that was all the encouragement he needed and let go, head falling back onto Tai's shoulder, hips shoving forward into Sherlock's mouth. He grasped the seat of the chair and didn't grab Sherlock's hair. Manners.

John let his breath out. "Well done," he said to both of them.

Sherlock knelt back, jaw open, lips shut, clearly considering what to do with the semen in his mouth. His eyes were narrow. Tai giggled and licked John's ear. "Spit," she advised.

Sherlock ran for the sink and spit, then rinsed his mouth. "I'm not offended. I was done with it," John said, grinning.

"Entirely acceptable," Sherlock said.

John gave him two thumbs up.

*

to do:
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage
fellatio [receiving
and performing]
cunnilingus
anilingus

hand job [receiving and performing]
anal sex, manual [receiving]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]
intercrural [subset of frottage?]

*

Chapter Text

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: bored

Nobody in the shop ALL DAY apart from the morning New Porn Rush. What are you up to?

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: don't say that word

When I get it from Sherlock, it means something is going to explode.

I'm resting between bouts of laundry and cleaning. Sherlock is leaning out the window trapping flies in individual test tubes. I'm about to attempt to make him shelve his books so we don't have so many piles of rubbish about the place.

Boring here too, is what I'm saying.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: don't say that word

Scrub the tub and I'll make it worth your while.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: don't say that word

Yes ma'am!

Sherlock says the books are shelved; they're shelved by subject, and we have more subjects than shelves. My arse, I say, but arguing with Sherlock is like arguing with the television. It makes a noise, but it's not listening.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Lunch

Tomorrow, and bring Sherlock? I want my flatmates to meet you.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Lunch

Should do. I won't tell him, though. That way he won't have time to think of a way out.

*

"Mary"--a black woman in her forties--"Priya"--Asian woman in her thirties--"and Neil."--white man in his twenties. "Guys, this is Sherlock and this is John," Tai said.

Tai's flatmates waved. Tai, Sherlock, and John joined them in the booth, John sliding in beside Priya and Neil, Sherlock on the outside with Tai in the middle by Mary. Sherlock was jittery. John had a bad feeling.

"We've been absolutely dying to meet you," Neil said. "We keep seeing you out the window and the like."

"Well, here we are," John said.

"You gave Tai her nickname, didn't you?" Sherlock said to Mary. "Because you have the same name, and she met your friends, rather than the other way around."

"Yes... How did you know that?"

Sherlock sighed, tapping his fingers on the tabletop. John kicked him. "He's a consulting detective," John said. "It's his job to work things out."

"I'm simply curious as to how you derive 'Tai' from 'Mary,'" Sherlock said.

"She reminded me of a character from a comic strip. Of course, she was dating girls at the time, not boys, so the resemblance was a little clearer." Mary smiled.

"Hm," Sherlock hmmed. He tapped harder. John reached across the table and grabbed Sherlock's hands in his own. "I'm absolutely dying for a fag," Sherlock confessed.

Neil laughed.

"But you're on the patch," Tai said.

"Wearing off." Sherlock looked out the window, pulling his hands out of John's. "There must be a cash and carry somewhere..."

"I have," Mary said, looking in her handbag. She took out a cigarette case. "I have one," she said, opening it. "I'll share if you will."

"You've saved my sanity." Sherlock jumped up and Tai let Mary out.

"Junkie!" Priya called after Mary. Mary flipped her off. She and Sherlock huddled together outside the restaurant window.

John shook his head. "No filter."

"What do you do?" Neil asked.

"I'm a GP, actually. One reason why I wish he'd use the patches properly and quit."

"I don't understand addiction," Priya said. "How can you let yourself by controlled by a chemical?"

"Speaking as a doctor, chemicals are what we are," John said. "Without oxytocin, there's no love. Without adrenaline, there's no fear." Outside, Mary doubled over laughing. Sherlock looked pleased, if not quite smiling.

"But we're so much more than that. Spirit, soul, that can't be described by chemicals."

John paused. "Depends on how you define spirit," he said.

"Is that a roach clip?" Tai asked, looking out the window.

John peered at Sherlock and Tai. "Yes, I think so." They were passing the cigarette back and forth, haloed together in smoke.

"Every last drop," Neil said.

"Oh, and there it goes. I bet he--" Tai laughed as Sherlock inhaled Mary's last breath. "Oh, poor loves."

Sherlock and Mary came back in, looking calmer. "Refreshed?" John asked.

"Yes," Mary smiled. She slid in beside Tai, leaving Sherlock across from John once more. "I approve of Sherlock."

"I approve of your cigarettes," Sherlock said.

"Win!" Tai cried.

"Oh, we're being vetted. Would you like to check my teeth?" John asked Neil.

Neil touched his cheek, raised John's lip, squinted at his teeth. "This would be a better joke if I could remember what you check teeth for," Neil said, and giggled. So did Tai and Mary.

The waiter came by for their orders. "The household is a vegetarian space," Priya told Sherlock.

"But you're not at home," Sherlock said. John kicked him. "Stop kicking me. I'm going to bruise."

"I'll have the chickpea curry and he'll have saag paneer," John told the waiter.

The waiter left. "You're all three homosexuals, aren't you?" Sherlock said, looking from Priya and Mary. Priya raised a challenging eyebrow.

"So bent I'm circular," Neil said.

"I keep trying to be one hundred percent lesbian, but John was just so cute," Tai said.

"You're a minority," Sherlock said to John. "Have you ever been before?"

"Being English in a sea of Americans is much more unsettling than being straight in the middle of gays. You'll have to try harder."

"Wait, I thought you and Sherlock were together and then Tai is the third?" Neil asked.

"Boy, I told you it was complicated. John is straight, Sherlock is gay, and don't even try to figure it out." Tai flicked her fingers at him. "Poof. Stop fretting."

"My sister Harry--I lived at home for a long time while I was in university because we just didn't have the money, and my little sister came out young," John said. "Then, teenage rebellion and all, she was determined to make Mum and Dad oppress her; every dinner had her regaling us with her conquests among her school friends and my parents saying yes, that's lovely, but don't say tits at table, that's rude. Drove her mad that they never had some afternoon drama showdown where she got to be gay and proud and triumph over her bigoted parents."

Mary clucked. "She didn't know how lucky she had it."

Priya tapped her lip. "Harry? Your last name is Watson, right?"

John nodded.

"Is she in advertising?" John nodded again, and Priya continued, "Her company donated services to the charity I work for. I've met her."

"Oh, and didn't like her," Sherlock said.

"No, she was fine," Priya said, but her voice had no power behind it; Sherlock was right.

"She's hard to like," John said. "We've never gotten on."

Priya sighed. "No, I didn't like her. She's very loud and not very politically aware. But her firm did good work for my charity, so I won't complain."

"What does your charity do?"

"We aid Muslim women being abused by their husbands and families. It's very difficult, especially in this racist society," Priya started, and continued until the food came. Passionate about her work. Admirable. But he felt a bit like he was at a seminar.

But then food, and they could talk about how good the food was and how spicy they liked their curries. Neutral subjects. Sherlock watched, taking mental notes; John could always tell when Sherlock was interested versus faking interest.

Mary was an artist--"I work with traditional Nigerian forms within the European artistic tradition," she said.

"Oh," John replied, lacking any intelligent response, and Sherlock laughed at him--and she took their picture, all three of them together. That was when they officially passed the flatmate test.

"Neil wants you," Sherlock said on the way home.

"Does he?"

"He can't have you." Sherlock wrapped his arms around John and glared at the other men on the Tube platform. John grinned and leaned back into Sherlock's embrace.

*

Sterile growing medium
Methyl blue
Slides
Ceramic scalpel

You're on your own. Haven't shopped for that kit since St. Bart's.--JW

Get it online.--SH

You do it then.--JW

But I have you.--SH

*

Tai bought John a book on polyamory from the shop. "You really think so?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said.

She was tired (twelve hour day, who wouldn't be) so they just went to bed.

John woke up alone in the morning, though. Had to piss; went down to the bathroom. Heard splashing. Knocked.

"Yes, pet?" Tai asked.

John opened the door. "Need to--" And Sherlock was in the tub with her. All right. John shook his head and used the toilet.

"Take a look," Tai said. She stood up. Her body was shaved bare.

"Eugh," John said.

"Don't eugh my vag!" She flicked water at him.

"The smooth skin is interesting," Sherlock said, lifting his leg out of the water. He was shaved too; John didn't bother asking why.

"I like hair," John said simply. He leaned over and kissed her anyway.

"It grows back. I felt like a change," Tai said, sitting back down in the tub. "Plus I had help."

John stroked Sherlock's long hair away from his forehead (Sherlock turned into his hand, an affectionate caress) and left them together.

Cereal for breakfast. Couldn't be arsed with anything complicated. He turned on the television, hoping for something nice and gory and horrible. No luck, though. Weather.

Tai and Sherlock emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in towels, damp and combed. Tai sat on the arm of the velvet chair. Sherlock leaned on the back. "Good morning," John said.

"Anything going on today?" Tai asked.

"Any murders? Messages from Lestrade?" Sherlock asked.

"No, no, and no," John said.

"Smashing. Let's have some sex," Tai said. She dropped her towel.

"Righto," John said.

John slid out of his chair and onto the floor, pressing himself mouth-first to Tai's delicious cunt. Nothing there but a too-clean soap and water smell; see, that was why he liked hair. It kept the woman scent in.

Tai laughed. "I'm going to fall! Come on." She tugged his ear, but John stayed on his knees, holding onto her hips, following her as she walked backwards, giggling, into Sherlock. John glanced up. Sherlock was sitting in the leather chair, towel unfolded over the seat. Very tidy. He wasn't turned on, at least his cock wasn't; he just had a look of interest on his face. Tai sprawled into his lap, round, soft limbs tangling with long and knobbly.

Sherlock embraced Tai, rolled her nipple between thumb and forefinger. "Ooh. The boy is learning," she purred. She wriggled into a nice open position on top of Sherlock. John slid his hands under two smooth thighs--not a matched set, but he didn't bother trying again--and set about trying to make her come on his face.

Tai told Sherlock how to move her, up, down, over, hold her thighs open, and did he want a handy? "No," Sherlock said; when John looked, Sherlock was still limp. So John sucked and licked until Tai reached a loud climax and his tongue wore out; no come on his face, but you couldn't have everything, or there wouldn't be anything left to look forward to.

John sat back, rubbing his jaw. Sherlock sniffed Tai's hair and licked the sweat from her cheek, making her smile. "Change your mind?" Tai asked.

"About what?" Sherlock asked.

"Well, John about hair."

"No," John said. "Even when it gets in my teeth."

"And you... you're not even a little interested in my body." Tai cupped her hand between Sherlock's legs.

"The conclusion seems inescapable," Sherlock said. "You can stay in my lap, though. It's pleasing, if not stimulating."

Tai grinned. "Even gays agree women are nice to touch." She turned around in Sherlock's lap, arms around his neck, and kissed him; John thought he kissed back. Sherlock stroked her sides and bottom.

"Fuck me on Sherlock's lap," Tai said. She straddled Sherlock's thighs. "Sherlock, if you get inspired... whisper in my ear."

Clothes off. Condom on. He leaned over Tai and kissed Sherlock--Sherlock seemed distracted, but kissed back--and then in, standing between Sherlock's legs and Tai's feet, leaning on the chair back.

Tai curled against him. "I will never get used to how big you are," she sighed.

Sherlock slid his hands down John's ribs and cupped his arse, adding a little weight to the thrust of his hips. Tai lost her words, which was very flattering indeed, and just cried out between them.

Later, Mrs. Hudson brought them cake. They were all three reading (Sherlock cross-legged in the velvet chair with Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, John in the leather chair by the window with bloody medical literature, Tai at his feet, leaning on his calves, with The Gift of Fear, which she reread every year, she said) with the stereo on low (a fierce argument: Sherlock liked John Cage, which John wouldn't put up with for a minute; Tai liked Lady GaGa, who made Sherlock rant about celebrity and talent; John liked Lou Reed, who made Tai mime hanging herself; they reached a tentative compromise on the New Wave playlist on Tai's iPod).

"Oh, this looks like fun!" Mrs. Hudson said, paging through the book on polyamory. "I wouldn't have minded two gentleman friends when I was your age, dear," she said to Tai.

"There's still time," Tai said. "You're a fox."

"Were you having sex earlier? I thought I heard some thumping about."

"Yes! A good time was had by all," Tai said.

"Well, that's marvellous. Make sure you drink lots of fluids and eat your carbohydrates. You don't want to faint in the middle of a scene," Mrs. Hudson said.

John raised his eyebrows. "Excellent advice."

"Ageist," Tai whispered.

*

ideas for Mrs. Hudson's birthday:
ballet tickets
dinner out somewhere expensive

rent boy
new wallpaper--SH

*

He cleaned everything in the flat, including Sherlock's room (while Sherlock was playing the violin, and LORD did he bitch about it after), the chemistry equipment, the floors, the sinks, the skull, and the tub. Then, nice clean tub, dirty sweaty him; he ran a hot bath. "Care to join me?" he asked Sherlock. He'd bathed with Tai; of course he wanted to bathe with John.

Bit of negotiation as to who would sit where, but they fit together best with Sherlock in back and John resting against his chest. Lovely. The combination of hot water and hot embrace left him quite blissful. (Never mind that Sherlock brought his laptop in, setting it on the toilet. He was still Sherlock, after all.)

"How very heterosexual of you." Sherlock stroked John's side under the water.

"Shut up and enjoy my flexible nature," John said. He washed quickly. Sherlock sat up, hands on John's shoulders, and investigated John's hair, face, and shoulders, sniffing and tasting his skin. "Looking for something?" John asked him.

"I won't know until I find it," Sherlock said. He nosed up the other side of John's neck.

John rested his head on Sherlock's shoulder and let Sherlock pull him back, arms around John's chest, John's hands over Sherlock's hands. "I didn't think you would last," Sherlock said.

"No?"

"Nobody else has ever been my friend this long. Relation, colleague, yes; though even colleagues don't last. Look at Molly." She'd finally turned on Sherlock. John could have told him that flirting with her wasn't the way to go, but there was no telling Sherlock anything.

"I'm not anybody else," John said. "You wouldn't have liked me before the war, though. I'm a different man."

Sherlock nosed around John's cheek to his mouth, kissing him awkwardly from behind. John turned around, onto his knees, and kissed him, no tongue, then with tongue, John's arms around Sherlock's shoulders, Sherlock's hands beneath the water on his hips, little waves echoing off the sides of the tub.

Sherlock caught John's lower lip between his teeth, lightly, kissed his lips, kissed his chin. "I want you," Sherlock said. "I want to taste your sweat when you come."

"Why? What do you get out of it?"

"You."

John sighed against Sherlock's skin. He understood slightly; he loved making his partner come, and especially adored Tai for how damn easy it was with her--but this was different, surely? Wasn't it?

"If I had to watch people come and not get off myself, I'd go absolutely mad," John said.

"Perhaps not mad, but you would be highly frustrated, yes."

"But this is how you like it?"

"Yes," Sherlock said.

John sat, looked at him, rubbing his thumbs over Sherlock's shoulders. "Your brain really is wired entirely differently to everyone else's," John concluded.

"Ye-es," Sherlock said, his tone suggesting that John was quite painfully slow.

"You're unique."

"There are enough other people like me that there's a word for it," Sherlock said.

"Not what I meant," John said. "Take your fill, then."

Sherlock didn't waste a second. He seized John's cock, working his foreskin like he'd done this all his life. He kissed John deeply, other hand on the back of his head, holding onto his hair. John inhaled (soap, clean sweat) and Sherlock's mouth moved down to his throat; he urged John up onto his knees and jacked him just exactly as fast as John liked it.

John held onto Sherlock's shoulders, thrusting into his hand, and Sherlock licked his neck from front to back, bit his shoulder, chewed on his skin, raising what was going to be a bruise. A love bite. "Oh damn," John panted, "Sherlock," he said.

Sherlock rubbed his face against John's shoulder and dragged his tongue over John's throat and switched to small, circular motions with his hand, and John came on him, over his hand, under the water, with a loud groan echoing around the small room. Sherlock licked across his collarbones, bit his throat, bit his chin, back up, kissed him again, and they sank back into each other's arms. "You, you, you," Sherlock whispered. His eyes were huge. His breath was short. He was half-hard, but John didn't make the offer this time; he just rested his forehead against Sherlock's and they breathed together.

*

Favourite parts on your body:
throat
right ankle
the abrupt bulge of the muscle at the base of your left thumb

*

Chapter Text

*

Part two of cleaning: Burning. Sherlock regularly burned any documents that might be used to investigate him. Once he clipped all the interesting articles in the newspaper, he burned the rest so that nobody could see what he found uninteresting. He burned receipts and shopping lists, which meant that John had to keep a careful eye out for anything that needed saving.

John was going through his wallet and stray bits of paper, passing receipts for bread and milk and takeaway into the flames. He'd never protested this. It was absolutely necessary. He didn't want some bastard like Moriarty knowing that brand of milk he preferred. (Secret: He didn't. He bought a different brand every time. Sherlock charted his unpredictability and was pleased.)

Tai had her own front door key by now. When Sherlock heard her come in, he jumped up and called down the stairs, "John got over himself!"

"Oi!" John said.

"Fantastic!" Tai replied.

"I found it hard to have sex with someone who didn't want me! That's not a bad thing, that makes me not a rapist!"

Tai dropped her handbag at the top of the stairs and grinned at them both. "You will shag for me. That makes my year."

"Have you two discussed this?" Sherlock asked.

"A bit," Tai said.

"He and I haven't," Sherlock said. He took Tai's hand. They both crossed the sitting room and stood looming over John. "Do you want to know what I want to do to him?" he said to Tai.

"Yes," Tai said.

"Yes," John said.

"I've been giving it a great deal of thought. What I desire, what he desires, what our bodies allow. I want to sodomize him," Sherlock said, and the heat in his voice gave John such an instant and powerful erection that he saw stars. Sherlock smiled, a quietly triumphant smile. Tai took Sherlock's arm and leaned on his hip.

"That looks like a man who wants a fucking," Tai said. John shut his mouth, tried not to look so eager--then thought of Sherlock's words in the park, and looked more eager. He spread his legs wantonly. He expected some tickle of fear, some thread of "only lady-boys get fucked by other men" to arise from his reptile brain, but it didn't come. He was John Watson, and he liked touching Sherlock, and he liked things in his arse, and he liked the idea of Sherlock in his arse. He saved the shame for things that were shameful.

Sherlock laced his fingers through Tai's. "I want to spread him under me and spit him on my flesh," Sherlock said.

"Oh, Jesus!" John thumped his head against the back of the chair. He screwed his eyes shut; he was not coming in his pants.

"And that's why," Sherlock said.

"Oh, I know. Let's tag team him. You start, I'll finish with the strap-on."

John whined in the back of his throat. "Now?" he asked, his voice strangled.

"Well, I want a cup of tea," Tai said.

John took a deep breath. "Bollocks to that," he said. He had his trousers undone before he staggered all the way to his feet. "Five minutes or I'm starting without you."

He managed to strip off and sprawl on the bed without giving himself concussion. Sherlock and Tai followed him up the stairs more slowly, advancing into the room still hand in hand.

"I'm starting to understand why people obsess so much about sex. Having this effect on someone is really rather marvellous," Sherlock said, leaning over John. John bit his lip as Sherlock knelt on the bed beside him.

"Actually, most people obsess about the effect other people have on them," Tai said.

"I like your way," John murmured, kissing Sherlock.

Sherlock left his mouth and started kissing down his cheek and neck, pausing to breathe John's hair deeply and lip at his earlobe. Tai knelt on the other side. "Shall I tie your hands?" she asked.

"No, not my--oh." He lost his words as Sherlock sucked on his nipple.

"Come in his mouth and we'll fuck you through the afterglow," Tai said.

John groaned loudly. "No," he said.

"You know you want to."

"No!"

Tai bit his shoulder. "Stubborn."

Sherlock mouthed across his stomach. He pressed his nose to the crease of John's leg, breathed in, then licked. He rubbed his nose over John's abdomen, then touched the very tip of his tongue to John's cock.

"Sherlock," John said.

"Mm."

"Get in me if you're going to. There's time for this later."

Sherlock raised his head. "And that's foreplay, is it?" Tai giggled and stroked lube into John's arse.

"Mm. Yes. Otherwise I'm going to come on your face and fall asleep."

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "You're boring when you're asleep."

"Then take your clothes off and fuck me already."

Sherlock ran his hand over John's inner thigh, then stood and stripped off. Beautiful. All sleek bone and muscle, all pale skin and soft lines leading down to the curve of his cock; he was nearly hard, which felt like an accomplishment. "Oh, you're so fit," Tai sighed. "Wish you weren't gay. I'd break off a piece." Tai handed him a condom, which Sherlock just looked at.

"You don't know how? Come here, dollface," Tai said.

"Really not a position I thought I would be in," Sherlock said.

Tai rolled the condom onto him but kept hold of his genitals. "See, I'm a genius," she said, grinning, and she picked up something--oh, a cock ring; she snapped it around Sherlock's balls and the base of his cock. Sherlock touched it, examined it. "Okay?" she asked. "It helps you stay harder and delays orgasm."

"Interesting," Sherlock said. "But I don't orgasm."

"Then it just keeps you harder." Tai stroked his hips, light touches, fond rather than sexual.

"Sherlock," John said. "Come here."

Sherlock knelt between his legs. "Everything's in the way--" John put his feet on Sherlock's shoulders helpfully. "Oh," he said.

Nearly a virgin, and in this case, lack of experience made him tentative, gentle, awkward. Almost sweet. It was very strange, and not really what John wanted. "Sherlock," John said.

Sherlock looked up at his face.

"Get in me, you bastard," John said.

Sherlock smiled. He stroked John's calf, kissed his right ankle. Tai moved Sherlock's hands, showing him position, up, folding John the right way, and then in; God, in and in and in, and John let his breath out, making room.

Sherlock leaned over; hand on the bed, wide eyes, dilated, staring at John; hips not moving. John touched his arm, finger tracing up his skin, and Sherlock shivered and bent down and kissed his collarbone, then met his mouth, not kissing, open mouth. He sucked the breath from John and gave it back, heavy and damp, and John folded his legs around Sherlock's waist, and their hips didn't move. John's cock throbbed with blood against Sherlock's stomach.

He tried not to move, but he had to, just a little. If Sherlock would just thrust, heaven, heaven, but they had different goals; what Sherlock wanted was this, one flesh, one breath, being inside and outside and joined and together. But John--he was so hard; and he twisted his hips a little, moving himself on Sherlock's body.

Sherlock gasped a tiny ah. Too much. But Sherlock thrust, shallowly, looking at John, watching him respond, and John responded and responded, because this was gorgeous. He could feel every inch of cock, not like fingers or dildo, different, and GOD, it was Sherlock doing it--

He felt the dig of Sherlock's hands into his hips, and then Sherlock moved him, in/out, up/down, outside in.

Sherlock shuddered. "Safeword," he said. "I can't--"

"Ease out," Tai told him. "Okay?" she asked John.

"More," John said.

"Slut."

John fanned his legs open because yes, absolutely. Sherlock flopped onto his back beside John, breathing hard. He held his cock, still hard and confined. Tai hauled John's legs up over her shoulders and plowed him with the strap-on. Oh, God. He closed his eyes.

Tai was shaking his whole body, fucking him as hard as he so, so, so loved, and Sherlock licked the sweat from his underlip, not quite a kiss; then Sherlock slipped two fingers into his mouth. John held them with his lips, not his teeth. Sherlock drew the wet fingers out. John managed to open his eyes and saw Sherlock, eyes still wide, and Tai, biting her lip, small breasts bouncing; John couldn't breathe, and then, then, Sherlock stroked his cock with wet fingers and John yelled, came, collapsed, maybe died.

No. He breathed in. Oxygen. Still alive. Just melted, poured onto the bed like custard. "Mmm."

"My turn. Are you out?"

"Mm," John said.

"Useless," Tai said, kissing his cheek.

"I can," Sherlock said.

"Really?"

"I'm not nearly as interested in your body, but I do like you. You teach me the most interesting things," Sherlock said, and that was all the talking.

When John managed to open his eyes, he found, to his great surprise, Sherlock's head between Tai's legs. "Oh, well then," he said.

"Yeah. Not bad for a beginner," Tai said.

John rolled over and licked her nipple, pinched the other between thumb and forefinger. "Oh, oh, Sherlock, teeth and I'll come," she said. She hugged John's head to her breast.

"Mm?"

"Yes, teeth, I'm serious--" And Sherlock apparently took her at her word, because her body clenched and released. "That's the way," she gasped.

"Messy," Sherlock said.

John grinned. He pulled Sherlock's face down and licked it clean.

*

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Sherlock at his MMA fight
Attachment: halfnaked3.jpg

Did he mention his hobbies? Cage fighting, the mad bastard. You wouldn't think he could hit so hard with his skinny little arms, but he says it's all skill.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Sherlock at his MMA fight

Phwoar.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Sherlock at his MMA fight

Mind you, I can take him in a fight. I've pinned him a few times. He never expects me to resist him. It's a surprise every time.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Sherlock at his MMA fight

Well, pet, you are a consummate sub.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Sherlock at his MMA fight

Am not.

*

"Come here," Sherlock said.

"Why?"

"You'll like it."

"That's a nice change, then." John put down his book and pushed himself to his feet (achy today, feeling age and wounds and weather). He crossed his arms and stood before Sherlock on the sofa.

Sherlock pushed up John's jumper and unbuckled his belt. "What, now?" John asked.

"I need diversion. I'm testing if this does the job."

John smiled. "I'm flattered," he said, because he was.

Sherlock squeezed his arse. His fingers were shockingly cold against John's skin, making John shiver when Sherlock's hand dipped inside his skivvies. John's cock thickened and bobbed free despite the chill. "Should have told me you were freezing. I would have lit the fire," John said.

Sherlock pulled back, huffing through his nose. "How domestic you are."

"Come on, I'll light the fire and you can gobble me off in the warm."

And John did, with his erection bobbing before him, as Sherlock curled up in the armchair John had vacated with his sock feet beneath him. "How did I ever live without you?" Sherlock asked.

"Search me," John said. He pressed his fist to his back and straightened up.

"I really can't remember any more, Come here." Sherlock beckoned. John read his body language--where did Sherlock want him?--then perched on the arm, so that John could stroke Sherlock's hair, and Sherlock could hold onto his arse, and John could hold onto the chair, and they could cuddle and fuck in the heat of the fire.

"Damn," Sherlock muttered to John's cock. "I wanted to try to deep throat." He lapped softly at the head.

"You're not choking yourself with my cock," John said. But his body betrayed him; his balls tightened and he flushed at the thought.

Sherlock looked up at John with slitted eyes. He sucked his lower lip between his teeth and released it with a small pop. John forgot to breathe.

"You are diverting," Sherlock said. He bent and sucked down John's cock, over his flat tongue, nearly to the back of his throat. He let his spit wet his fist (not so cold now) and worked John gently.

John slid a little with each bob of Sherlock's head. Couldn't help it. His knee wound up against the back of the chair while Sherlock knelt sideways on the seat with a foot on the floor. John was only still on the chair because of Sherlock's hold on his belt loops. It wasn't an especially large chair. "I'd better make sure to come before the chair breaks," John said with a bit of a laugh, and Sherlock snuffled around his mouthful of cock in answer, and John came smiling.

Sherlock spat into a cup. He stood and took it to the kitchen, ceding the chair to John. John relaxed.

"By God, you're fertile. Your sperm are nearly jumping off the slide," Sherlock said a few moments later. John got the giggles again.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: DI Geoffrey Lestrade
To: Dr. John Watson
Subject: Medical advice

Recommendation for a PTSD therapist? One of my lads is in a bad way.

From: John Watson
To: DI Lestrade
Subject: Re: Medical advice

Ella Thompson. She's getting me through and I'm a bloody mess.

From: DI Geoffrey Lestrade
To: Dr. John Watson
Subject: Re: Medical advice

Ta.

*

No case. Sherlock was getting antsy and touchy, opening a dozen books and declaring them all boring. John didn't have to talk to Tai; she was already doodling stick figures of a wobbly H with Sherlock in the middle. (He could tell by the hair. Stick figure Sherlock had a Medusa's wig of springy curls, while stick figure Tai had a bow on her head, and stick figure John had no distinguishing features apart from a flatteringly massive hard-on.)

So, he decided, it was time. John stroked Tai's thigh. "Do you recall Sherlock's safeword?" he asked.

"It's 'safeword,' I believe," she said, smiling with half her mouth. She could tell he was up to something, which of course meant Sherlock knew as well.

Sherlock was standing by the bookshelf, pulling out books and reshelving them fitfully. John stepped up behind him and clapped one hand over Sherlock's mouth and the other arm around his waist. He pulled Sherlock back across the room to the velvet chair.

He tossed Sherlock in the chair and knelt on the seat, over Sherlock's lap, hand still on Sherlock's mouth. Then he uncovered his mouth and braced both hands on Sherlock's shoulders. "So."

"What are you planning?" Sherlock asked. He honestly didn't know. It made John feel... genius.

"Just remember your safeword," John said, and he took Sherlock's wrists in his hands and stepped back, up, behind the chair, twisting Sherlock's arms up over his head, holding him through pure anatomy. "Shirt, please," John asked Tai.

She nodded and started to unbutton his shirt. Sherlock shivered at her touch. "No, just up," John said.

"Ah," she said, and she tugged Sherlock's shirt out of his trousers and rolled it up his torso. Sherlock's cuffs were buttoned. He had him caught, his one hand controlling Sherlock's arms via the trap of his shirt. Sherlock stared up at him, wide-eyed. Didn't use his safeword.

So, he had Sherlock in the palms of his hands. Felt good. John twisted the shirt around his hand, pulling Sherlock's wrists tighter together, and Sherlock inhaled sharply.

John moved around to the side of the chair, took Sherlock's chin in his hand, and kissed him. Sherlock relaxed a little, but then John clamped his free hand across Sherlock's eyes. Thumb by his nose, palm against his eyes, holding onto his face. He knelt on the arm of the chair, leaning his weight against Sherlock's head. Pinning him by the brain.

"John," Sherlock said, very soft, very low. "What are you doing?"

"Pressing your buttons," John said. "Seeing if you go off."

"I don't," Sherlock said.

"We'll just check," John said.

Sherlock opened his mouth, but John kissed him. Sherlock exhaled into John's mouth.

John straightened up, looked at Tai. Tai held up her handy rope and John nodded; she knelt, pulled off Sherlock's socks, and tied his ankles. Sherlock breathed heavily but didn't speak. He writhed, pulling foot against foot to test the bonds.

Tai hooked her fingers through Sherlock's belt loops and Sherlock opened his mouth in a silent gasp, wide open mouth. Pink tongue straining at the back of his mouth, all tension, no release. Tai pulled. No hips, Sherlock, and pretty much arseless as well; his trousers slid right down to his ankles, nothing underneath, because John hadn't done the washing.

Body still shaved, so he was nothing but a long pale stretch of baby-smooth skin between two bunches of black cloth, punctuated by his half-hard flushed pink cock.

"John, I can't," Sherlock said. "I don't work that way."

"I don't believe you," John replied.

Sherlock exhaled. He writhed, rubbing his thighs together, shifting his arse against the chair, cock moving separately, hardening. Tai fished around in her handbag and came up with a small bottle of oil. She snapped open the top and Sherlock stiffened. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Not hearing a safe word," John said. He licked Sherlock's nose and Sherlock flinched.

Tai drizzled oil across Sherlock's stomach and Sherlock flinched again. He wriggled against John's hands. Tai placed both hands on his stomach, smearing the oil up his stomach, to his chest, over his nipples, and Sherlock hissed and tossed his head back.

She worked her oily hands down over his hips. She winked at John, leaned down, and licked a stripe up Sherlock's cock. Sherlock reacted as if he'd been burned, yelling, kicking against the floor and thrashing his hips away. John waited for the safeword, but Sherlock didn't give it.

Tai rubbed Sherlock's knees, soothing him. Sherlock turned his face toward John. John kissed his lower lip.

Tai rubbed the oil over his skin, knee to thigh to hip to stomach to chest, a lick to his chin, back down, a bite to his nipple. Sherlock sucked in his breath.

"I can't come," Sherlock said.

"Not believing you yet." John stood and pulled on Sherlock's arms, hauling him up the back of the chair. Sherlock groaned, but not in pain; John wasn't hurting him.

And Tai just touched him, rubbed his skin. Sherlock's cock was hard and red. "Aren't you lovely," John said. Sherlock hummed and turned toward him. "I would love to stick my cock in you," John said.

"Why don't you, then?"

"Because you don't like it. But if you did..."

"I'd give you anything," Sherlock said.

"Give me your climax."

"Anything I have, anything I can do, not something impossible--ah!" Sherlock writhed as Tai massaged his balls. He bared his teeth with an "nngh."

"You're still human. There's nothing wrong with your cock; you can come."

Tai ran her hands over Sherlock's hips, stroking in circles, and John kissed him. He eased Sherlock back down, letting gravity return him to a sitting position. Through everything, he kept hold of Sherlock's face. This was right, he knew this was right, somehow. Connection without sight. Eyes were a part of the brain. Cover the naked brain and make him feel.

Sherlock groaned, turning his head away. John kissed his throat just below his jaw. "I want this," he said into Sherlock's ear. "I'm having this. We both are."

Sherlock groaned again in response. He turned his face back toward John. "I can't," he said.

Tai planted a knee between Sherlock's legs and started working his cock with her hands. She licked and then blew on his nipples at irregular intervals. Sherlock's face contorted like agony.

"Just because you haven't doesn't mean you can't," John said. He kissed Sherlock, not too deep, pulling away after every kiss in case Sherlock needed to use his safe word. But Sherlock just licked his lips, then put out his tongue and licked John's lips. John opened his mouth and let Sherlock in.

Sherlock inhaled sharply. John looked down and saw Tai jerking Sherlock's cock with both hands, slow then fast then slow. "Getting there," she said. She nudged her leg up between Sherlock's. Added pressure.

John took Sherlock's lip between his teeth and chewed. Sherlock groaned but didn't try to speak. He pulled Sherlock out of the seat again, holding him backwards, and Tai knelt between his legs with both knees, using her palm now to stroke Sherlock's cock, letting his arse rest on her thighs. John sucked Sherlock's lip. His mouth was bright red when he let him go.

John bit Sherlock's tender underarm, not hard, but it made Sherlock cry out. He moved back to Sherlock's face and bit Sherlock's chin, scrape of teeth along his jaw, an odd move that made Sherlock gasp. He followed with a lick and suck and nose across his throat, then a bite to his throat, extremely gentle. He had to move his hand down Sherlock's arm to reach, but he kept his hand over Sherlock's eyes.

"God, what are you doing to me?" Sherlock asked. He twisted his wrists in their cloth bonds fretfully. John looked down at Tai, found that she was rubbing Sherlock's nipples, leaving his red cock alone.

Almost, Tai mouthed. She leaned in and bit Sherlock's collarbone.

John moved back to Sherlock's ear. "Making you come. We're going to keep going until you let go." Sherlock whined in response, breathing heavily. "You're still human. You're not as singular as you think."

"I am, I am," Sherlock whispered.

John kissed him, biting his lip thoroughly. He kissed him again, rubbing their noses together. He drummed his fingers against Sherlock's temple, bit his nails into Sherlock's arm. Small, sharp touches. They made Sherlock twist and groan and thrash.

Then John heard a buzzing; Tai pressed a vibrator (gun-shaped, what a fantastic woman she was) to Sherlock's cock. Sherlock made a loud, pained cry and shook in John's hands. He heaved, moving his trapped wrists and ankles against each other, eyes fluttering against John's palm. John kissed him hard. Sherlock barely kissed back, instead crying out horribly, the kind of yells that would make John pick up his first aid kit and his gun if he didn't already know what was going on. "Come on, I'm having your orgasm, I'm having it," he repeated into Sherlock's ear. "This is happening, do it."

Sherlock did. Silently, mouth open wide, shaking. Shaking like he had malaria. John let his arms go and he threw them around John's neck. He couldn't sit up; he slid off the chair, into Tai's arms as well, shaking and shaking. He kept his eyes tightly shut even after John let his face go. "You're all right," John said. "I have you." John held his shoulders, Tai stroked his back. Sherlock drew his legs up under him.

"That is the hardest I have ever worked for a male orgasm," Tai said. "Ever. Sherlock, you are singular among men."

Sherlock gave a broken-sounding laugh. He pulled away from John just enough to press the crown of his head to John's shirt and fold his arms between them. John stroked his arm, felt him shiver.

They held him for a long time, until he could raise his head and look more or less collected. "My god," Sherlock said. "You do that all the time?"

"It's an easier place for us to get to," John said.

Sherlock shivered. He rested his head back on John's shoulder and started picking at the torn shirt still tied around his wrists. "I can't think."

Tai got up and retrieved the blanket from the sofa. She wrapped it around all three of them. "I can't think," Sherlock said again.

"Stop trying. Just enjoy it," John said.

*

to do:
orgasm
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage/intercrural
fellatio [receiving and performing]
cunnilingus
anilingus
hand job [receiving and performing]
anal sex, manual [receiving and performing]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]

*

Sherlock read the book on polyamory over breakfast, absently eating whatever John put in front of him. John seized the opportunity and fed him toast with Nutella, orange slices, sausages, eggs, grilled tomato. "I'm your primary," Sherlock said.

"Yes, I think it's clear I'm your wife," John said. Tai giggled into her tea. She was watching TV and reading the newspaper in the sitting room.

"But I didn't enjoy orgasm at all. I don't want to do that again."

Tai dropped the newspaper. "You didn't? Seriously?"

"No."

John switched out Sherlock's tea for a fresh cup while he was glaring at Tai. Tai knelt in the plush easy chair, elbows on the back. "That's the saddest thing I've ever heard," Tai said.

Sherlock just looked at her.

"Okay. I don't understand it; I respect it," Tai said. "Do you still want to experiment? Because there are so many ways to blow your partner's mind without tipping over that edge."

"Oh yes," Sherlock said. "I enjoyed performing fellatio. I may enjoy more. And I do love the experimental method."

John gave Sherlock a plate of beans on toast. Sherlock gave it back. "You're skin and bones," John said.

"Elegantly slim," Sherlock retorted. "And you've already shoved a thousand calories into me. I've finished."

"A little more. It's wafer thin," John said. Tai laughed.

"No."

"Fine." John took the plate and sat down.

*

Chapter Text

*

Case! John dipped out a sample of holy water, muttering "vampires, vampires, vampires" and looking around suspiciously. Sherlock was right. Nobody met his eyes.

Except--at the next church on the list--one man, who watched him from behind his Bible. John sat in the alley by the church, rocked back and forth on his heels, and when the man approached him, snapped a picture with his phone between his fingers. "You seem troubled, my son. May I help?" the man said, but his eyes weren't as kind as his words. Interesting.

John hissed, crossed his fingers before him, and ran.

He met Sherlock at St. Bart's. They tested the holy water and John was right about the man with the shifty eyes.

Then, of course, Sherlock made the mistake of flirting with Molly. She hit him with a sample rack. The resulting bruise made him testy.

*

The case of the Felonious Monk ("Priest," Sherlock said.

"Shut up," John said.

"But he was a priest," Sherlock said.

"PUN," John said.

"Nonsensical pun!" Sherlock said.

"Never mind, I thought of a better one.").

The case of the Judas Priest.

"PS," John wrote. "Six month anniversary with my girlfriend. XOXOXO and thank you for getting on so well with Sherlock."

Harry Watson: Bring her around!

Lady TaTa: XXX to you too baby. Saving the OOO for later.

Harry Watson: I LIKE YOU ALREADY

*

Remember, remember, the fifth of November... Last Guy Fawkes Day, he'd drunk himself unconscious before the fireworks started. He wasn't doing that tonight; it was the coward's way out.

But Tai was working, they didn't have a case, and Sherlock refused his assistance with his study of the cockroaches of London. John turned on the television, volume on high, and tried to pretend like he wasn't dreading the firecrackers.

Pop. Why would you celebrate the anniversary of something not exploding by exploding things? Contrariness? Mockery? John dug his fingers into the chair arms and glared at the TV.

Pop, pop, bang, whistle, BOOM. Someone splashed out. Yes, it was mockery, John decided.

He got up and made a cup of tea. "Sherlock, did you get any insect in the sugar?" The sugar bowl was far too close to Sherlock's work.

"No. I'll eat a great many insects, but not roaches. They're repulsive." Sherlock removed legs from the specimen under the magnifier. "Crickets are quite nice, though."

"I've heard that. Get some and I'll cook them for you."

"Groceries are your area."

"What do I know about crickets? They'd pawn me off with the defective ones. The runts. The ones that talk," John said, watching the kettle boil.

Sherlock exhaled, as good as a laugh. "Tea?" John asked.

"Please."

Something exploded as he took the mugs down. His hand shook. He dropped a mug.

Sherlock didn't comment as John cleaned it up, but once John put the dustpan up, he caught John by the hand and pulled him close. "I can do this," John said.

"John." Chiding.

"Past my limit. But I have to bear it." Even though it sounded like London was being shelled. Christ.

Sherlock pressed his hands flat over John's ears and kissed him. The outside world became soft and muffled. John closed his eyes and listened to the swishing blood in his ears.

Sherlock pulled him by the head to the sofa; John sat down blindly, trusting Sherlock. He let Sherlock hold him, kiss him, and then wrap them both up in a blanket. Sherlock draped it over both their heads, blocking out the lamplight.

"That's better, I think," Sherlock said into his mouth. John heard his voice oddly filtered through his own sinuses. He held his palms over John's ears.

"But can you stay there all night?"

"I have the patience of a rock when I want to." Sherlock resettled them more comfortably. "Sedimentary rock, even, not that flibbertigibbet igneous."

John smiled and kissed back.

*

Chapter Text

*

Case: The Ginger Nut.

Thing Sherlock loves that I would not have expected:
Disguises. He's bloody good at it, too. I thought there was a stranger in the flat, nearly chucked him out the window.

DI Lestrade: Oh, don't tell me he was the damn disappearing witness.

John Watson: I'd like not to have to tell you that.

DI Lestrade: Sherlock, when the amount of trouble you CREATE outweighs the amount you save me, you're out.

*

Tai tied Sherlock to the coffee table. "All I can see is ceiling," Sherlock complained.

"I could tie you to a chair instead."

"Our chairs aren't sturdy enough. They creak."

"Okay. Kneel down. Let's do some proper bondage," Tai said. She had a glint in her eye. John was glad it wasn't him (except for the part that really wished it was; but restraint made him anxious, not horny).

She started by wrapping his ankles, not snugly but securely, in a crossed position; then his wrists in front of him, again not snugly but securely. She wrapped the rope around his body and then asked, "Tense or relaxed?"

"Show me tense."

She took his chin and guided him into a graceful, flexible backbend over his ankles. "If I put a loop here, you would have to hold the bend or else strangle. I had a girlfriend who would come just from being put in this position."

Sherlock swallowed. "No." His voice was weak from the strain.

Tai eased him back into a comfortable kneel. She looped the rope around neck and waist, knotting it at every cross, tucked the ends in and tied his neck to his ankles. "Lovely," Tai said.

"This is rather soothing. I like it."

Tai kissed his cheek. "We could have so much fun," she growled.

"Mm." Sherlock smiled.

Then, of course, Sherlock's phone rang. He sighed. "Let it go."

John looked at the display. "Cain," it read. "Oh, it's Mycroft," John said, and answered the phone, setting it to speaker.

"No! Why would you do that? I never, ever, ever want to speak to Mycroft!" Sherlock shouted. John held the phone in range so that Mycroft could hear.

"Whatever are you doing to my brother?" Mycroft asked. He sounded amused.

Sherlock settled back into the ropes. "What do you want, Mycroft?"

"What is that I hear? The creak of jute? Oh, my, my, my. Is your menage a trois now avec bondage?"

Sherlock exhaled through his nose. "What. Do you. Want?"

"To see how you're doing, of course. But I see you're a little tied up at the moment. Is Miss Morstan in the room?"

Tai put a hand on Sherlock's shoulder and he jumped; she removed it. "Yes, right here," she said.

"What a conscientious dom you are. I'm Sherlock's brother, and I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance at long last."

"Oh, god, tell me you're not inviting us to Christmas dinner," Sherlock groaned out of the blue.

"Yes, actually. All three of you, unless Miss Morstan has other plans."

"I'm visiting my parents," Tai said.

"Oh dear. You and Sherlock aren't going to fight over John, I hope."

"No. Sherlock is his primary."

"Delighted to hear it. I always hoped he would marry. Sherlock, I will see you there."

"No!"

John hung up. As he set the phone down, he felt a hand on the back of his neck. He let Tai push him down over the coffee table. "I'm the interloper," she growled into his ear. John felt it right down into his balls.

"Do I plead for my virtue?" John asked.

"You don't have any virtue." She yanked his trousers open and pulled them down around his thighs; she leaned her weight into his back, so that he flattened himself over the coffee table, head turned, looking at Sherlock.

Sherlock was squirming against the rope, but the knots held. His eyes were hot and intent on John's body.

"Open up," Tai said. He felt something against his back passage--not fingers, not Tai's usual plastic strap-on cock--"It's Big Pinky," Tai said. "You can take it." She'd strapped the pink glass dildo onto her body. Jesus.

"Oh, god," John muttered, thinking about that hard, relentless glass. "Let me spread my legs." He wiggled his jeans down around his ankles, shirt still on, hands on the table; Tai pulled off his jeans, leaving his socks behind. She grabbed his arse and spit on his crack. Shouldn't be hot. Really, really was.

John leaned forward and tipped his arse up, ready and waiting (looking at Sherlock, who was fighting the rope, his cheeks flushed), and then felt the glass, god, felt the push...

Of course Tai had slicked the glass, she was just pretending to be a brute. So John made a rather loud noise when she pushed her way into his body, but he wasn't hurting, he was loving it. She might as well have been beating his pleasure centers like a drum. He indulged in some moans as she slid in and out. Her hands were holding his arse open; he couldn't imagine how it looked to Sherlock, who still couldn't move. Tai could really truss a man.

"Up," she said, pulling back on his hips. "Stand up." He felt a loose strap slap his arse.

Okay, John thought, stupid from fucking. He managed to get his limbs under himself and stand, glass buried deep in his body. He looked around hazily as she steered him a step or two by the loop in the dildo--oh, toward Sherlock. Bless her. "You are brilliant," he said, and then Sherlock sucked John's cock into his mouth like he was starving, and John gave a heartfelt and highly appreciative groan and fell forward into Sherlock's strong shoulders. He barely stayed upright--Big Pinky behind, Sherlock's hungry mouth before--but if he fell, this would end, so he stood, dammit, staring at Sherlock's dark curls, until Tai pulled him away--unfair!--away from Sherlock's mouth.

"No!" Sherlock yelled. "Come back here!" But Tai took John in hand, jerked him just a couple of times, cock slick with Sherlock's spit, and he came. Sherlock ducked just in time. John's semen landed in his hair.

John staggered to his knees with a sigh and hugged Sherlock. Sherlock turned--hit John in the nose with his chin, ow--and said, "What a depraved mind you have."

"Begging to suck your boyfriend's cock builds relationships," Tai said. John giggled and kissed Sherlock's neck.

"Let me go," Sherlock said.

"I'll have to remember to... huh," Tai said. She stood (knickerless, just a bra, phwoar) and examined the ropes for a minute. Then she untied Sherlock's neck and ankles and said, "John, get up for a second. Oh, and--" She eased the dildo out.

"Gn-yeh-oargh," John said. He clung to Sherlock, feeling like a cored apple. Tai kissed his ear and pulled them both up.

"What are you doing?" Sherlock asked. His arms were still tied.

"Making you a happy boy," Tai said. She guided Sherlock to the sofa; John kept his feet, coming around a little. Orgasms just knocked him out. Sherlock had a certain point there. Tai placed Sherlock in a half recline, hands still tied in front of him, and opened his trousers. "And John sits in your lap," Tai said.

"Untie him," John said.

"I'm rather comfortable," Sherlock said.

"I don't want to be punched in the lower back," John said.

Sherlock wrinkled his nose. "Fine."

"Anyone would think you didn't want to shag this arse," John said, slapping his backside. "This beautiful, beautiful, arse." He grinned.

Tai untied Sherlock and provided him with a condom. "I'm taking notes," she said.

"Because I want you to shag this arse," John said, climbing on top of Sherlock. He kissed him.

"Turn over," Tai said. "Sit in his lap. He'll love it."

So John did; he balanced on Sherlock's shoulder and the back of the couch, letting Tai aim him on Sherlock's erection. He was still open and relaxed. Sherlock slid into him like a gun into a holster. "Mm," he sighed, resting back against Sherlock's chest. Sherlock wrapped his arms around John's stomach.

"Help me," Sherlock said, running his hands up under John's shirt. Tai stripped it off the rest of the way.

"Oh, yes," John said. Sherlock wasn't fucking him, just resting. Just there, stroking his stomach and chest, thumbing his nipple, kissing his neck.

Tai knelt between Sherlock's and John's legs. She kissed John lingeringly. "Boyfriend, boyfriend, lend me your hands," she said; John extended his left, Sherlock his right, which made John grin.

Sherlock licked John's cheek. He wiggled his fingers without looking. Tai put John's hand in her cunt and Sherlock's on her clit and, well, John wasn't sure how long they fucked, but it was a while. They were all three drenched in sweat and flying on hormones by the time they were done.

Tai had the best damn ideas.

*

Cards: Clara, Bill, Mike, gays next door Ben & Mehdi, Sarah, Elizabeth, Lestrade, Donovan, Dimmock, Molly, Cpl John, Sgt Dave, Sgt Leah, American Steve, Madly Joe [find his real name], Adrian

Tai:
Harry:
Mrs. Hudson: scarf?
Mycroft:
Mrs. Holmes: scarf?
Sherlock:

do you want my help?--SH

YES--JW

*

Chapter Text

*

December 25th: The Case of the Christmas Turkey. Well, not a case, really, since nobody was paying them and no crime had been committed, but it helped John greatly to think of it as a case.

John wasn't sure if this was actually Mycroft's house, or another undisclosed location. There was nothing personal about it; it was decorated in a men's club kind of way, all brown leather and green velvet and brass. Big chandeliers. Statuary. Butler. John felt massively underdressed; well, under-faced, under-sized, under-bank-accounted, everything. Best just get on with it, then. Sherlock, of course, looked perfect. How he could wear nearly the same thing every day and always look appropriate was beyond John.

"Sherlock, John, so lovely to see you! You're looking well," Mycroft said, shaking hands with both of them.

"You look ghastly. The salt-free diet makes your veins stand out," Sherlock said. He gave Mycroft the bag with the wrapped presents.

"Yes, I've already given it up. Mummy's here. We'll open presents before dinner, have some champagne."

So. Mrs. Holmes. Black hair, white streak at each temple, too perfect, probably dyed. High-necked black dress, and Mycroft was in black, and Sherlock as well, why hadn't he noticed? John was wearing brown with a festive red jumper. Damn. And Mrs. Holmes was stroking a cat, a blue-point Siamese. Bloody hell. Either this was Mycroft's real house... or he'd hired a cat. Either seemed plausible.

Sherlock bent over and kissed her cheek. "This is John Watson, Mummy."

"Lover?" she asked.

"Yes," Sherlock said.

"A strange choice."

"He's more than he seems."

"Clearly," she snapped, baring her teeth in the same way Sherlock did. "You would never take up with someone that bored you. Do you have anything else to show me?"

"I brought you a present."

"No job, then."

"Nothing you would consider a job."

Mrs. Holmes looked at John. Her eyes were as arresting as Sherlock's. "Come over here, then. Sit beside me."

Mycroft pushed a champagne flute into John's hand. John took it gratefully.

"What do you do?" Mrs. Holmes asked him. He didn't know her first name, he realized.

"I'm a doctor," John said. "Currently a GP."

"And before that?"

"Army. Invalided home."

"Careless or brave?" she asked.

"Careless." And stupid. But he wasn't copping to that in front of the Holmeses.

"Did you save him?"

"Them. No."

"But you've kept my son from harm, or we would already be acquainted," she said. "Yes, fine. You can sit with Sherlock now."

John jumped up. He sat with Sherlock gratefully; Sherlock put his arm around John's waist. John drained the glass, barely tasting it. The burn of the bubbles eased his stomach.

"You haven't found another wife yet," Mrs. Holmes said to Mycroft.

"No, but I have a few leads," he said.

"You can't keep pining for Constance. It's not healthy."

John looked at Sherlock. Sherlock mouthed "dead." John felt his first stab of sympathy for Mycroft.

"I'm not, Mummy, I'm just a very busy man."

"Of course. One son a layabout, the other working too hard. You could help him," she said to Sherlock.

"Yes, I do keep trying," Mycroft said.

"I'm morally opposed to Mycroft's work," Sherlock said.

"You're a sociopath. You have no morals," Mrs. Holmes said.

"I have morals," Sherlock said, his voice quiet and dangerous.

"Then why are you growling at your own mother?"

"Because you're attacking me!"

"I'm provoking you to do something with your life!" she shouted.

"I am!" Sherlock punched the sofa arm and stood in one motion.

"Please," Mycroft said. His quiet voice drew both pairs of eyes. "Dinner." He gestured into the other room.

John wondered if his cooks had scrambled, or if Mycroft knew how long he could put his mother and brother in one room before a fight broke out. John rubbed Sherlock's back as they walked in to dinner. Sherlock was tense as a violin string.

First course was already laid: Paté, and behind it, a salad of hothouse greens and strawberries in a light vinegar dressing. And pink wine? Rosé, that's what you called it. All very expensive, John supposed. He tried a bit and thought it was all right. Sherlock didn't touch it.

"Sherlock, do eat. You know how I worry," Mycroft said.

"I don't eat at times like this," Sherlock said. "Meanwhile, you do nothing but. Thus our relative figures."

Mrs. Holmes pressed her thumb to her forehead. "Eat."

"No."

"We've been having this argument since you were three," she said, grimacing. She spoke through her teeth in the same way Sherlock did when he was feeling especially aggressive. "Why?"

"I certainly don't know," Sherlock said.

"Mother, don't push. The harder you push, the firmer he stands." Mycroft gestured to have Sherlock's plate taken away.

"Needn't bother serving me the rest," Sherlock said.

"Fine," Mycroft said.

"Oh, are you back on cocaine? Is that it, Sherlock?" Mrs. Holmes asked.

"No."

Mrs. Holmes slammed her hand down. "Another year, you have no job, no prospects, no effort, no industry, and the most you can tell me is you're no longer doing drugs! You're a failure! You're lucky I'm your mother and hormones make me love you, Sherlock!" She sat back and drained her glass.

John didn't dare say a word. For that matter, neither did Mycroft, who was picking the strawberries out of his plate and eating them.

"Make something of him, Dr. Watson. Anything. Hairdresser will do."

John and Sherlock looked at each other. "Yes, ma'am," John said, and drained his glass as well. The butler refilled it. Mycroft attempted to make pleasant conversation; since neither Sherlock nor their mother responded, he ended up talking to John about football for two hours.

By the time they were allowed to leave, John was so drunk he could barely stand.

*

And he woke up with a hangover. Miserable, miserable, miserable. He was in his own bed, alone. There was vomit on the floor. He made it to the toilet in time to be sick again.

Pink wine. Pink damn wine. He should have known; no, nothing so respectable as a good whisky drunk, a beer bender; no, after months of sobriety, restrained by his ascetic lovers, he had to go get sloshed on damn champagne and pink wine at a Christmas party.

He couldn't remember doing anything too egregious, but really, all he was up to was lying in the hall with his forehead on the cool, firm skirting board and thinking about how painful sunlight was.

Sherlock stepped over him to visit the lav. "John! That's revolting!" he yelled, and flushed. Oops.

Sherlock made his own tea, at least, the whistling of the kettle like a needle in John's eye. He had the distinct impression that Sherlock was angry with him. What had he done?

Then, tea made, Sherlock started playing his violin. Whatever he'd done, it was horrid.

John lay there, nose tickling with dust and dirt--the floor needed hoovering badly--as the high notes hammered his hot, swollen brain and the low notes turned his stomach. After a year or so, he put his hand over his ear, but he could still hear it.

Four or five years later, the door buzzer rang. Sherlock didn't stop and John didn't move. Buzz. Buzz. Finally, Sherlock stopped playing and opened a window. "Here!" he shouted. Then, footsteps.

"Lazy bugger," Lestrade said. John deduced that Sherlock had thrown his keys out the window rather than moving his flat arse to answer the door himself.

"Here, John, what happened?" Donovan's voice, concerned. She knelt beside him.

"Hangover," John said weakly to the wall. "Be all right once I die."

"You just let your best friend lie on the floor? Arsehole!" she snapped in another direction. Sherlock started up the violin again, tense and angry.

"Come on, up we go. Come on. I hurt just looking at you." Donovan got him on his feet, though his eyes were still closed. She steered him into the lav and sat him on the toilet, where he leaned slowly to the left until his face pressed against the rough, cold wall. "You're dirty as a city street. When's the last time you hoovered? I'm sure His Highness never cleans." Donovan wiped his face with a damp flannel. It felt like heaven, except that every nanometer of movement was like being hit by a blunt object.

Metal sound. "Have you taken anything? Paracetamol? Christ, look at this lot!" Medicine cabinet. John drifted back onto the nice calm wall. "Vicodin; you're the doctor, is that safe?"

"Yeah," John confirmed.

The violin stopped, which was heaven. "Here," Donovan said. "Eyes." John opened his eyes. She was holding a glass of water and a pill.

John took them both. "Ta," he managed.

"Why is Sherlock being such a bitch?"

John drank half the glass of water, swallowed the pill, fought his stomach, and said, "Been trying to remember. We went to his brother's Christmas party."

"There's two of him?"

"M," John said. "From Bond. Or Professor X. From the X-Men. Like that." John drank the rest of the water and leaned back against the wall.

"Are you sure that's just a hangover? We could run you over to hospital. You don't look good." Donovan pried his eyes open, looking from one to the other.

"Pupils same size?" John asked.

"Yeah."

"I'm fine."

"Well, we're taking Himself back with us, so at least you can have some peace and quiet. Come on, let's get to the sofa." Donovan put a hand under his elbow and urged him to his feet; John walked with his eyes closed, feeling the world see-saw around him. "Door," Donovan said, then "Door," then "Sofa. I'll get you some tea."

"Thank you," John said, curling up on his side. He didn't have to see Sherlock to feel him glaring.

"What were you drinking?" Lestrade asked.

"Champagne and pink wine."

Lestrade hissed. "That's deadly. No wonder you look so bad."

John concentrated for a minute on not vomiting. He was sure he could feel the pill dissolving in his stomach.

"Here you are. Plenty of milk, and I found some chocolate digestives," Donovan said.

"Lifesaver," John said into the sofa cushion.

"He did it to himself," Sherlock said. Still angry, then.

"Come on, leave him be," Lestrade said. Door. Stairs. Quiet.

*

John slept until evening, a fitful and hazy narcotic doze. He drank the tea in half-sleep, over the course of the day, and woke up fully in twilight.

Sherlock was sitting at the desk, in the dark. He turned and looked at John when he stirred. "How are you feeling?" Sherlock asked.

How are you feeling? He wasn't sure he'd ever heard those words out of Sherlock's mouth before. "Better," John said.

"I brought home dinner. Beef and broccoli, and there's some spicy tofu left. And fried rice."

"Who got to you, Donovan or Lestrade?" John asked.

"Both, in a concerted effort." Sherlock turned away and tipped the chair back on two legs. "You threw up on me."

"Oh," John said.

"That's not why I'm angry! That's what happened first," Sherlock said. "Then you started wishing your mother were alive, so that you could call her. Then you said my mother was rubbish, not a proper mother at all, and started talking about the cake your mother used to make. You rubbishing Mummy is the reason I'm angry."

"Oh." Well, that was pretty damn unforgivable. John pried himself off the sofa and staggered into the kitchen for some fried rice. "I'm sorry," John said, leaning on the counter.

"I should have told you," Sherlock said, very quietly.

"I shouldn't have been that pissed."

"I'm admitting that I'm wrong for torturing you. Are you sober enough to remember?" Getting testy again. They must really have laid into him.

John smiled. "I am."

"Because I'm sorry," Sherlock said angrily. John drank some water.

*

Chapter Text

*

Sherlock had a stack of elegantly wrapped presents. From his cousin, a scarf, maroon cashmere with a charcoal stripe. From his uncle, a box of paper. Just paper. John didn't really understand, but Sherlock looked pleased. From Mycroft, a bottle of paracetamol, which made John laugh like a drain and Sherlock frown. From his mother, in a nest of expensive rice paper, a pamphlet on Narcotics Anonymous meetings in London. From John--

Sherlock looked up, a tiny smile on his lips, his eyes radiant with happiness. John had given him a John Watson Identification Kit. Fingerprints and toeprints on a neat card. Sequenced DNA, blood sample, semen sample, close-ups of his irises, current dental x-rays, x-rays of identifying bone deformities and wounds, vial of hair yanked out by the root, two skin samples preserved in paraffin, one of virgin flesh and one of scar. Sherlock reached over and touched John's scarred shoulder. Didn't say anything. Looked at the last vials, which held cotton balls marked "throat," "armpit," "groin." Scent.

Sherlock leaned over and kissed him deeply. Shoved a box into his hands. Kissed him again. "It's not enough."

"Let me see it first," John said. A simple gift box tied with a ribbon. Not by a shop girl, John thought, looking at the knot. He slipped the ribbon off, opened the box, and found a balisong knife.

"Sherlock," John said, taking it out and flipping it open. Stunning. "These are illegal."

"And?" Sherlock said. He looked at John, eyes slitted with pure pleasure as John flipped the knife open and closed.

"True; the gun is more illegal. This is lovely." The balance was perfect. It fit in his hand like it had been made for him. Maybe it had been made for him. John slipped it into his sock and Sherlock beamed.

John had a second box, from Mycroft, which was very small indeed. He took the paper off, opened the box and... keys.

Oh, bloody hell. Keys. To a motorcycle. "Motorcycle," Sherlock said at almost the same moment. There was a small card at the bottom with an address and the notation: "The parking space is permanent and guarded."

John stood up, looked for his shoes. Sherlock got his coat, handed John his coat, which John put on over his pyjamas. The space was only on the next block.

And the bike was a new Triumph Bonneville. Two helmets were attached with a locking mechanism. The paint was sleek black, not too showy. John sat on it, and Sherlock sat behind him, arms around his waist, natural as breathing. "Aren't you going to start it?" Sherlock asked.

"No. I'm still hung over." He pictured the way Sherlock's coat would flap behind them, enjoyed the feeling of Sherlock clinging to his waist. Bless Mycroft and his creepy stalker heart; this was absolutely perfect.

"You're no fun." Sherlock kissed his cheek, hopped off the bike. "Come on, we have a case."

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: Thank you

I opened your present and cried for a while.

From: Sherlock Holmes
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: Thank you

I'm gratified to hear that my guess was correct. I didn't ask John.

From: Tai Morstan
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: Re: Thank you

He would have stopped you. But I love it.

*

Case. Chasing two Americans and three Senegalese through a factory at night. Sherlock yelled something in French, which John gathered was something like "we're after the Americans, stop running" because that was the effect it had. The three Senegalese men looked at each other, stopped, and raised their hands, which made it much easier to track the pounding feet of the two murderers.

Sherlock turned and jerked his head, which John interpreted as "keep chasing them up the stairs while I climb this ladder." Sherlock was stronger in the arms by far than John with his bullet-damaged nerves.

Sherlock climbed silently, John ran noisily, and by means of a winding route until he saw the black on grey of Sherlock's coat, John flushed the two creeps into Sherlock's waiting (pipe-wielding) hands.

But then one hooked John's ankle, tripping him into a vat.

*

For my fans: a picture of me in a vat of jellied eels. Photo credit S. Holmes.

Harry Watson: That's RUDE.

Lady TaTa: Agreed!

Sherlock Holmes: Not particularly good, either. Eels are better fresh.

John Watson: He picked eel out of my hair and ate it. What happened to not eating during a case?

Sherlock Holmes: The case was over. They smelled fine. The texture was unfortunate, though.

*

Then it was New Year's, and the three of them met Harry for drinks. John had a Coke. Sherlock ordered whiskey and soda. "I'm thinking of getting smashed," Sherlock said.

"I apologized! I apologized a lot!" John said.

"Red Bull for me," Tai said.

It was Harry's kind of place, lots of lesbians; the kind of place she used to take John to to see if he would squirm. She was aggressive about her homosexuality, the same way she was aggressive about her drinking and aggressive in her job. She'd accused John of secret homophobia right up until he was the man of honour at her wedding. (Pink tux, though the bridesmaids wore black. Testing him to the last minute.)

Then he'd gotten shot, and she'd offered spare bedroom, phone, clothes, everything, like the past had never happened. Like they didn't fight like cats and dogs for the previous thirty-five years. No. But he would make an effort to be friends if she would.

"Big brother!" Harry yelled. She was two down already, smelling of beer. She hugged him. "So! You've been banging my brother?" She shook Tai's hand and waved at Sherlock.

"Call me Tai. I'm way into your brother, yes!"

"You're not really what I expected! His last girlfriend was all--demure."

She didn't mean Sarah. She meant Elizabeth, who he'd nearly married. A nice girl. A boring girl, frankly, though he didn't like to think ill of his exes.

"No, Tai isn't terribly demure," Sherlock said, leaning on John's shoulder.

"Slut power," Tai said. "I work at Behind Closed Doors."

"I know that place! Biggest range of dildos in London."

"That's how I met John," Tai said. Harry howled with laughter.

One drink in, Tai was dancing with Harry and John was curled up in a booth with Sherlock, having the dynamics of the club narrated to him. "The woman in red has never slept with a woman before. She's broken up with her boyfriend and she's on the prowl for someone unlike him." Sherlock probably didn't realize how possessively he was holding John, with both arms around his chest and one knee up on the seat. When Sherlock went off on a tangent about drinks watering, John pulled his head down and kissed him.

That occupied a half hour or so. Then it was midnight. Tai came back to the booth, happy and sweaty. She and John counted down, ten, nine, eight, seven...

At midnight John kissed Sherlock, John kissed Tai, and they both kissed Sherlock's cheeks, making him crack a tiny little smile.

Then Harry wobbled over and kissed Tai. Aimed for her mouth, got her cheek. "My brother's boring! Come dance with me!"

"No, thanks," Tai said, looking a little spooked. She got into the booth, climbed over John, sat between him and Sherlock.

"Aww!" Harry flung herself away, found another cute girl to hit on. John's sister and John's fellow soldiers had a lot in common, he thought.

"I'm sorry," John said. This always happened. He made the effort, and Harry shit all over it. At her wedding, he danced with Clara, brother with new sister, and Harry got jealous and cut in. He'd accepted her phone because he'd needed one and couldn't afford it and she'd given it to him with a fifty-pound note in her hand. Everything nice tempered with something rotten. He should stop trying, but--he couldn't; he was a doctor, and her brother, and he loved her even when he couldn't stand her. He would inevitably try again.

"I'm okay. Just not fond of people in the spin," she said. John squeezed her hand.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: the rules

We never did set ground rules. Would you be bothered if I fucked someone else?

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: the rules

Not at all. Anyone in particular?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: the rules

Maybe.

*

"Off to therapy," John said.

Sherlock put his book down and got his coat.

"Really?" John asked.

"Really," Sherlock confirmed, looking resentful already. He put on his new maroon scarf.

Ella and Sherlock eyeballed each other for a very long moment. Then, Ella set her notebook on the floor. "Shall I start by telling you what I know about you?" she asked.

"You know from John that I've been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, though I prefer the term sociopath. You can see that I'm not on any medication, and that I don't trust you at all, simply because of your position, thus your overt gesture. You know that John and I are in a polyamorous relationship with Tai. You don't know, because John doesn't know, that the last time I saw a mental health professional, it was because I accidentally burned down my flat while high on cocaine and they were trying to section me."

"Yes, hold on, you could have mentioned that before I moved in!" John said.

"I'm clean now. Cocaine was a mocker. Mummy hired a good lawyer and I went to rehab--not that I needed rehab, but they like to see you show willing. I'm not the slightest bit irrational," Sherlock said to Ella.

"No, except for the bit where you took cocaine. Why would you do such a thing? Isn't it busy enough in your head?"

"No," Sherlock said, looking at John. "Rarely. Only when I'm solving a puzzle or I'm with you; I find you very interesting. Before I found out how interesting crime could be, though, it was always a struggle to find something to do."

"Oh; therefore the fencing, martial arts--"

"And the homemade explosives," Sherlock said. "I was nearly an arsonist. You can thank Mycroft for stopping that career path before it began."

"Christ. You can thank Mycroft. You'd die in a week in prison."

"That was his point as well."

"So--you read all the books in the library, you don't have sex, everybody in the world is tedious, you got bored of playing your violin, and you thought, well, how about drugs?"

"It's like you were there," Sherlock said.

"You never considered, oh, chess?"

"Boring. Only thirty-two pieces and sixty-four squares."

"Poker?"

"Please."

"Thank God for crime-fighting, then."

Sherlock smiled.

"Who taught you how to act? Mycroft?"

"No. Mummy. We had a talk when I was four about how they needed the things in the house to stay in one piece, the piece they came in, and that it made everyone's lives more difficult if they were broken, taken apart, or set on fire, and she built on that when I was older. I've never been able to hide anything from her. She's not rubbish," Sherlock said, frowning.

"God, you have no idea how sorry I am about that," John said.

"I have an idea. Your ears go red when you're embarrassed. Like now, thinking about that night; you're utterly transparent, John," he said with a little smile.

"So are you. You hardly ever lie. That's not very sociopathic."

"Lying is a means to an end. I used to lie more, but now... can't be bothered. Truth usually gets a better reaction." Sherlock looked at Ella. "You must be enjoying this."

"Of course. This is very enlightening," she said.

Sherlock frowned, leaned in, examined her. "I don't really think you're up to dealing with me," he said.

"I know I'm not. But I'm not your therapist, I'm John's, and I'm only dealing with you as far as you relate to him."

"So what do you think?" Sherlock asked.

"I think you'll run rings around me if I let you. So I'm not going to let you." She smiled with one side of her mouth. Her tone was firm.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. "Oi," John said. He leaned over and flicked Sherlock's ear. "She's in no way your enemy."

"I'm not so sure," Sherlock said.

"Nobody's going to section you. I don't even think you're a sociopath," John said.

"I am," Sherlock said. Not an argument, an assertion. Interesting.

"I'm not convinced."

"What would convince you?" Sherlock said, looking dangerous.

"Come off it," John said. "You're not going to hurt me. You adore me."

Sherlock made disagreeable shapes with his mouth.

"Why are you so wedded to a diagnosis? You're a loner genius type, and an asexual, and a cock. Why be a sociopath as well?"

Sherlock stared at him. He stood up abruptly, saying, "I'm not being cross-examined. I'm off. John?"

"No," John said.

Sherlock glared at him and swept out of the room. John looked at Ella.

"Well," Ella said. "I see you're not cowed by him."

"He does try, but no."

"Excellent. It's important to set boundaries around your sense of self," Ella said.

It said something that John had been going to therapy long enough that he understood that.

They were only fifteen minutes into the session. Forty-five minutes later, Sherlock opened the door. "It's 17:00. Appointment's over," Sherlock said. John laughed. "Come home," Sherlock said, sounding desperate.

"I can't believe you waited for me," John said.

Sherlock made further signs of desperation with his eyes. He closed the door.

"I don't think he's a sociopath either," Ella said.

"Next time," John said, and he collected Sherlock from the waiting room.

Sherlock was huffy on the way home. "You're coming with me again some time," John informed Sherlock. "That was very nearly fun."

"Never," Sherlock said.

*

the rules:
never to lie to Mummy
no violence unless the other party starts it
not to set fires except in fireplaces
not to steal [except for a case]
not to cause emotional distress [this one is extremely difficult and I often fail]
rules for humans also apply to animals [this one is easy]
only to touch with express permission [new; not needed before]

the reasons I attempt to obey the rules:
prison [best option]
mental hospital [worst option]
you leave me [new, unranked option]

*

No case. It was 31 January. John had lived in Baker Street for a year. He'd helped solve fifteen cases. He'd nearly been killed... plenty of times. He'd been shagged... lots. Sherlock would have those last two numbers, he was sure.

He'd seen three severed heads, but touched none. (Unless you counted the skull. He dusted the skull, occasionally polished it. It seemed disrespectful not to.) He'd killed two people, one intentional, one not. After that, their cases had become much calmer; he suspected this was due to Moriarty going underground. He was glad. Definitely glad.

And he'd fallen in love with Sherlock. (Never, ever tell him that.)

He wasn't sure if he loved Tai. He liked her, a lot. He was pretty sure he would have called it love before he met Sherlock, but now? Sherlock had eaten him whole.

One year.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: the rules

Luring someone else into bed this weekend. Will you lads be all right on your own?

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: the rules

Yes, dear. Boy or girl?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: the rules

Girl. Two boys are enough for me.

Her name is Christina; she's a friend of Priya's, she is RIPE for her first Sapphic kisses--just figured that out about herself--and she's so gorgeous she makes my throat hurt.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: the rules

Sounds heavenly. Could you sneak me under the bed?

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: the rules

Ha bloody ha.

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Re: the rules

Actually, if you came over with her scent on you, Sherlock would go wild.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: the rules

Oh, my. He would. He absolutely would. I'll take that under advisement, old son.

*

Tai stopped by Monday. Sherlock ignored her (no case, grumpy) until she stood close enough that he could smell her; then he sat up and took notice. "What have you been up to?"

Tai grinned. "Work it out." John grinned as well, pulled up a chair.

Sherlock looked her up and down. "You look very pleased with yourself." He pulled her in and inhaled, touching his nose to her bosom. He nosed down her side and growled. He pushed up her shirt to expose her breasts (no bra today) and said: "You cheated on John."

"I didn't cheat, I told him first."

"Tell me again how pretty she was," John said.

"Oh, beyond pretty. She looks like Freema Agyeman. She came three times; she'd never had an orgasm with a man, and she was married, isn't that awful? She had sex with him for years and never enjoyed it." She shivered, sat in Sherlock's lap, shirt still tucked up. Sherlock embraced her, looking annoyed.

"One doesn't need orgasms to enjoy sex," Sherlock said.

"You don't. She does. She had a lovely time and so did I."

"Well, that's a job well done, then," John said.

Sherlock frowned at him. "This isn't how relationships work. I've studied them," he said. "It's what I do."

"Oh? How do they work, then? I have yet to get it right," John said. He stood and strolled closer. Tai gestured him in and he sat on her other side, embraced her and Sherlock both. Tai placed his hand on her naked breast. Her nipple was hot, rough, bitten. Sherlock must have felt that right through her shirt. He sat a little closer.

"There's jealousy and possession and--" Sherlock stopped, exhaled through his nose. "I haven't seen this before."

John smiled, kissed Tai. "I wasn't always so calm. I'm sure I would have made a fuss before. But--" He shrugged. "Not feeling it." He kissed Tai's shoulder, smelled the other woman's perfume. No. Nothing but thankfulness that she was here in his arms. The sensation was new; like holding water in his cupped hands, he thought as he kissed Tai. If he tried to grab, she'd just flow away.

*

Harry: Hey bro you haven't called me in two months

John: You hit on my girlfriend at New Year.

Harry: no!

John: I'm not thrilled. Nor is she. She's not public property just because she's bisexual.

Harry: sorry.

*

No case. Sherlock refused to suck John's cock, declaring it insufficiently novel. He was drawing his own blood moodily and examining it under the microscopes, muttering about bacteria and contamination and John's filthy skin. (John suspected this had something to do with John's refusal to shave his groin. He loved Sherlock, but that didn't mean he was a poseable doll, and he wasn't going to tolerate weeks of itching for a moment of pleasing Sherlock.)

So John went for a drive. Nowhere in particular, just up and down the roads, wasting petrol, uncoiling the muscles in the back of his neck. The Triumph wasn't a sport bike, more of a drivable sofa, but that suited John fine.

When he had gone through enough roundabouts that he wasn't quite sure what direction he was facing any more (oh, fine, north, he could see the sun, but it would be nice to be able to get lost) he saw, quite unexpectedly, as he stopped for a light, Lestrade. Lestrade recognized him as well. "John!" And he waved. "Come have dinner."

"All right. Let me just park the beast!" John called over.

John parked, locked up his helmet. "Dare I ask where the great detective is?" Lestrade said.

"Home, going mad. If we go any longer without work I'm going to kidnap Tai to Spain, make him find us." John paused. "Actually, that isn't a half bad idea."

Lestrade laughed. "My wife, Janet, and our boy, Luke. This is John Watson."

Janet Lestrade was a sweet-faced woman in her forties. Luke was a teen boy, late teens, in... pigtails and black nail polish. Interesting. He was pretty in a not at all masculine way, delicate of feature like his parents, and clutching a large sketch pad. Janet shook hands with John; Luke said "hello" in a soft voice.

"Four," Lestrade said, and they were shown to a table. John looked at the menu. Spanish; ah, that's why he thought of taking Tai to Spain, then. Still seemed like a bloody good idea.

"Do you mind if I draw you?" Luke asked.

"Not a bit. Can't think why you'd want to, though."

Luke immediately bent his head over his notebook. "You have an interesting face."

"Seen a lot of interesting things with this face."

"He's getting a fine arts degree. My boy," Lestrade said, shining with pride.

"Congratulations," John said.

"Just starting my A levels. I could fail," Luke said, but he was smiling. "Are you going to ask what my backup career is?"

"No. I'm a locum GP on the NHS; I don't give a toss about money. If you make enough to eat, that's plenty," John said.

Luke looked up. "Wow. First time I've heard that."

"A doctor on a motorcycle?" Janet asked. "Every other doctor I've met calls them donorcycles."

"Better for my blood pressure than trying to drive a car through London traffic," John said, and Janet laughed and nodded. "Besides, it was a gift. From Sherlock's brother. Now HE has money."

"That was for Christmas, right? What did he give Sherlock, an aeroplane?" Lestrade asked.

"Paracetamol," John said, and Lestrade howled with laughter. Heads turned. Lestrade covered his face, shaking, for quite a few minutes, as his wife and son looked at him with concern.

"Easy, Geoff," Janet said.

"Oh, my god," Lestrade said, wiping his eyes. The waiter arrived to take their order. Janet ordered a stuffed mushroom starter for the table to share. John had the paella, Janet ordered chicken with artichokes, Lestrade (recovered) ordered a chorizo dish, and Luke ordered vegetarian paella, which somehow didn't surprise John.

"I'd like to draw Sherlock. Dad talks about him all the time."

"He'd let you in a heartbeat. He's vain as anything," John said.

"We've never actually seen him, though. I keep mixing him up in my head with Alan Davies from Jonathan Creek," Janet said.

"You're not that far off. He does like a magic trick." John fished his phone out of his pocket and paged through the pictures. Tyre track, four more tyre tracks, suspicious looking squirrel, reflection of street lights, Tai showing off her new teal hair, Tai showing off her new blue hair, jar of horse eyes, picture of shoes, more pictures of shoes... "Here we are," John said. Sherlock had parted his hair on the other side and used John's phone to take pictures of himself in different lighting. He passed the best to Janet.

"Oh, those eyes. You never mentioned his eyes, Geoff." Janet passed the phone to Luke, who immediately turned the page and started copying Sherlock's face.

"I'm not in the practice of staring into men's eyes, dear."

Luke paged back and forth in the photos. "What colour are his eyes really?" he asked.

"Blue so light it's grey. Unlike your father, I am in the practice of staring into Sherlock's eyes," John said. Luke looked up. Interested. Well, of course the lad was gay, wasn't he? He might as well be wearing a sign. "Hard to say when exactly we started, but I moved in with him last January, and we gave it a go some time in the summer."

"I guess you didn't try the traditional route of dates and flowers then?" Janet asked.

"No--well, yes, but he didn't tell me they were dates. Advice for living, young man. If you're looking to woo someone, say so. Otherwise it becomes awkward."

Luke smiled at his paper. He looked at his father. "You didn't say Sherlock was gay."

"Didn't I?"

"No," Janet confirmed.

"I'm sure I did!"

"You say 'Sherlock Holmes and his doctor' like Sherlock is a mental patient or something," Luke said.

"I never!" Lestrade crossed his arms.

John grinned. "No, fair enough. 'Boyfriend' isn't the top of the list of what I am to him. 'Backup' comes first."

"See? Thank you."

The starter arrived. "Do you have a boyfriend?" John asked over mushrooms.

Luke smiled, looking down. "Why do my parents' friends only have two questions? How is school and am I seeing anyone?"

"Manners!" his mother said.

"Because those are the only neutral questions," John said. "What do you do, which is answered by school, since you're a child; are you seeing anyone, because that's the biological impulse. I could ask other questions, based on close examination, but it's not socially appropriate for me to pay that much attention to a child."

Luke had his eyebrows raised. So did Janet. "Had to explain that to Sherlock, did you?" Lestrade asked.

"No, he knows. He favoured me with his treatise on small talk over dinner the other month."

Dinner arrived, smelling heavenly. Janet (who worked in HR, it turned out) told the story of the sandwich thief in her office. Lestrade talked about DI Dimmock getting stuck with four children under six at a crime scene. Luke finished his food quickly and drew John twice.

It was nice. But it ended, and John had to go home. "If I end up in Spain, I'll text you."

"I'll keep schtum if you do," Lestrade said.

He took the long way home, arriving after dusk. The flat was dark and silent. John didn't bother turning on a light, just walked up the stairs, but--

"Did you bring me anything?" Sherlock asked from the sitting room.

"Not a sausage," John said.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm trying to starve you to death," John said, and walked the second flight up to his room.

*

hope you like the drawing. hope you weren't offended that I think your face is interesting. sometimes people take that the wrong way like that means they're ugly. not true.

if sherlock likes it i would love to draw him also.

--luke lestrade

"Lower case," Sherlock said, with a tone.

"Go fuck yourself. He's a lovely boy," John said. He ripped the note out of Sherlock's hand.

"Granted, the drawing is quite nice."

*

He dreamed of Luke in uniform. He dreamed the boy taking a bullet to the head, his skull splitting softly, like the springy bones of an infant.

He woke up shaking and alone in bed. Didn't go back to sleep.

*

Chapter Text

*

From: John Watson
To: Tai Morstan
Subject: Help. Help.

Sherlock hasn't had a case in weeks. I haven't had work in weeks. We're both stir crazy. Sherlock is literally watching paint dry. I nearly sliced open my arm for suture practice. HELP.

From: Tai Morstan
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Help. Help.

Poor love. Come over to mine tonight. We'll watch some crap telly.

*

John knocked on the door. Mary answered. "Hi!" she said. "Come in. Tai's not home yet, but I made ground nut stew, try some."

"Sounds heavenly," John said, and stepped in.

Tai's flat was two floors of an old Victorian, much like Baker Street, but unlike Baker Street, it was bright, colourful, and beautiful. Yellow walls, African masks, red silk curtains. It was female in the same way that John's flat was definitely male. John wondered what Neil thought.

"Tai said Sherlock was driving you mad? He's the eccentric genius type?" The kitchen smelled like ginger. Mary dished up some yellow stew and John sat himself at the kitchen table.

"Like Stephen Hawking in the body of a border collie," John said. He tried the stew.

"Good lord." Mary sat down across from him.

"This is marvellous," John said. Peanuts, potatoes, spicy and savoury.

Mary smiled. "Thank you. Sherlock didn't seem so bad when I met him, though."

"He has his ups and downs."

"Is he bipolar?" she asked. John's face must have disapproved of the question, because she ducked her head and said, "I'm bipolar. Always looking for my people. We have Stephen Fry, you know. Very best company."

"Oh--sorry. If he is, he hasn't told me." It was something to think about, though. "I think the work drives his moods, rather than his moods driving the work," John said.

Mary nodded. "Oh, sorry--tea? Beer?" She got up, looked in the fridge. "Strange home-brewed--what is this?" she muttered, taking a bottle out. She uncapped it and drank. "Homemade cider," she concluded. "Rather good. Have some."

"Sure," John said. She gave him a fresh bottle. "Turning into a gourmet night. You'll spoil me when I go home to beans and toast."

Mary laughed.

The cider had a delicious crisp bite. Someone clomped down the stairs; Neil emerged in the doorway. "Oh, hello, John. Where's Sherlock?"

"We needed some time apart before we started knife fighting," John said. "He gets cabin fever if we don't have a case on."

Tai came home with a jangle of keys and a thump of her enormous handbag. "Halloo!" she cried.

"Halloo!" Neil and Mary answered. John smiled.

Tai rounded the corner into the kitchen. "Dollface!" She sat on his lap, facing him. "How are you?"

"Intact," he said. He leaned around her and had another bite of stew.

"Oh. I see how I rate," Tai said.

"It's really good stew," Neil said, and John nodded agreement.

"Prove it," Tai said, so John fed her from his bowl, and Tai forgave him; she still demanded to be carried to the sofa, though, saying she was too tired to walk.

"You realize Sherlock makes me fetch his phone from inside his pocket, right?" John asked, carrying her. "You're still incredibly low maintenance compared to him."

"Wow," Tai said. "I'll have to step up my game."

They watched... something. There was a panel, and people were witty at each other. Then they watched something else, which had orange women asking each other if they wanted to fight, then telling each other to grow up and act mature. John wasn't paying attention. He was half napping, nose in Tai's hair, arms around her waist.

"Mmm," Tai said. "We should go to bed. Unless that blond orange one and that brunette orange one are going to fuck."

"I think they're sisters, or cousins," John said. He frowned. "Or one is the other's auntie."

"Boo. Okay."

John brushed his teeth beside Tai. He'd brought one change of clothes. Sherlock had better miss him tomorrow. "You're--the one with the stars?" he asked Tai.

Tai nodded. She brushed very carefully, with gentle strokes, and was only half done. John wondered if her teeth hurt; this was normal for her, though, and he knew she had a good dentist. He left her to it.

Tai's bed was draped in curtains. Supposed to be exotic or something, but it made John anxious. Curtains didn't lock and he couldn't see the rest of the room with them closed. He sat on the edge of the bed, curtains behind him.

Tai came in eventually. "Not tired?"

"Can we have the curtains open?" John asked.

"Sure." Tai knelt on the bed, pulled a cord that John hadn't seen, and the curtains rolled up to the ceiling. Well, that made sense. She taught bondage; she could rig ropes. "I feel safe in this house," Tai said. "But of course you don't."

"Thanks, pet," John said, and lay down. Tai curled around his right side. She stroked his hair, but every time he relaxed, he heard some noise that made him start awake again. Finally he stopped trying and just lay still.

It shouldn't work this way. He should lie in his girlfriend's arms and feel comforted. He--no, this was the kind of thought process he was meant to interrupt.

Tai was asleep. John slipped gently out of bed. He swiped her dressing gown; fair was fair. In the hall, he found it was a white silky material printed with red cherries. He smiled and felt pretty.

The flat was quiet... except for one room, where music was playing softly, and John followed that sound up the stairs to the upper floor. He found an open door. Inside, Mary was painting.

She looked up. "Too loud?"

"Not at all. I can't sleep."

"Ah, come in, then. I won't sleep for ages. Days. When I'm up, I'm up," she said. "But I have a brain disorder. What's your excuse?"

John stepped inside, hands in the pockets of Tai's dressing gown. "PTSD," he said. "Bloody impossible to relax sometimes." He caught a glimpse of her canvas, but it was abstract, didn't mean much to him. "Would you mind if I just watched you paint?"

"Go mad," Mary said. She smudged white down the canvas with her thumb.

*

SH: Where are you?

Watson: Did you just now notice?

SH: Come home.

Watson: Why?

SH: I need you.

Watson: Your violin bow is in the fridge. Mine is not to wonder why.

*

Morning. Tai came home with John on the back of his bike. When John opened the door, Sherlock's wild violin spilled out. "He's amazing," Tai said.

"He's in a restless mood, with a overtone of frustration, and and undercurrent of what I would call sexual desire in anyone else," John said, applying his connoisseur's ear. "Can it be sexual desire if you don't like sex?"

They reached the top of the stair. Sherlock turned, his music light and dancing. "It can be sexual desire, expressed in an alternate path," he said. He finished with a dramatic flourish. "I wish to be tied up. Tightly."

*

John used to think half an hour was a good time frame for sex. Get in, give a good thorough orgasm, get his rocks off, have a sleep. Now? He checked his watch; he'd been naked for forty minutes and wasn't bored yet. Tai hadn't even taken her knickers off.

"Aren't you pretty," Tai said, beaming down at Sherlock. She'd bound Sherlock's arms to his side with a belt of rope around his waist and tied his thighs and ankles together. "Oh. Oh. Oh. You are so inspiring, dollface," she said, and leaned down and kissed his lips.

"Am I?"

"Oh yes. All that naked skin invites touching," John said. He held Sherlock's foot in his hand, running his thumb over Sherlock's rough heel. Sherlock still shaved his body; he'd missed a spot just under his knee. John bent down and tongued the tiny patch of stubble.

Sherlock sighed. "Imperfection. Damn."

"You think you're perfect? You have a double chin," Tai said.

"I do not!"

"Do. Unless you raise your chin, up, like that..." she said, and John looked up. She wrapped rope around Sherlock's neck. Sherlock inhaled sharply.

"Good?" Tai asked.

"Very good," Sherlock said. Tai interlaced ropes down his throat like a choker, forcing his chin up. Sherlock closed his eyes and shivered as she continued the lacing down his chest and stomach, ending in a rough cock ring. Sherlock settled into the ropes with a luxurious full-body writhe.

"I don't even have to ask any more. I can see you love it," Tai said. She planted a kiss over Sherlock's heart.

John kissed up his shin to his knee, up his thigh to his hand, bound there at his side. He licked Sherlock's fingers into his mouth.

Tai butted him with her head. John looked up and kissed her; she knelt reversed over Sherlock. Pressing her snatch to his mouth; oh, god, he loved his lovers. He lay on Sherlock and kissed his thigh, hip, chewed on the rope around his cock without touching the steely flesh.

Then watched Sherlock give Tai an orgasm. She gave him direction, faster slower, gentler harder. And this wasn't Sherlock's area, but he didn't complain, and he learned fast, from the look on Tai's face. She rolled onto her side when she was satisfied and John took her place, licking Sherlock's mouth.

"John," Sherlock murmured against his lips.

"Mm?" He was chasing every drop of salt across Sherlock's skin.

Sherlock swallowed. His throat bobbed between the loops of rope. His cheeks were flushed pink. "Please, please, please fuck my mouth."

He'd been half hard; now he was rock hard, pressing into Sherlock's side, and every inch of skin that adjoined his was aflame. "Only too happy to oblige," John managed, struggling to keep control over his body.

John put his head down; breathed into the sheets; reversed, kneeling on the pillows. He rested his forehead on Sherlock's stomach and felt his muscles tighten and quiver under him.

Shoved his cock in Sherlock's mouth, just as requested (begged); tongue, teeth (still a novice cocksucker with only one textbook) until Sherlock gagged (shudder of muscles against the head) and then pulled back; heard Sherlock breathe. Sherlock's tongue on the head and John pushed back down, in, lips stretched around him.

Small noise in Sherlock's throat and John pulled back out again, reluctantly. He heard Sherlock swallow, saw Sherlock's fingers wiggle, got the picture; interlaced his hands with Sherlock's, eyes closed, and pushed back in when Sherlock squeezed his fingers. Small thrust (Sherlock's mouth, hot and sweet and quick and smart) and Sherlock squeezed and a bigger thrust, pulling back when Sherlock eased the pressure. They had never needed words to speak (though Sherlock did love words and John was learning to).

Sweat rolled down his forehead (squeeze and in, release and out, Sherlock's tongue rippling over his cock) and onto Sherlock's skin (thin, fine-grained) and his breath came hard and loud as Sherlock kindled fire inside his flesh.

Tai lifted his chin. His eyes were still closed, too leaden to move, but she kissed him and his tongue moved with his cock (squeeze, release, hips wired to hands, nerves burning through his flesh). And Sherlock squeezed, and squeezed, and John thrust into his mouth--was he breathing? John wanted to check but his body was occupied, he was held on all sides--oh, faster, needing him, them, silken skin and strong hands--

He shot down Sherlock's throat. He felt Sherlock swallow around his pulsing cock, spitting not an option, too much meat in the way. Unraveled. Sherlock mouthed him even after, playing with his foreskin with his lips.

He opened his eyes against Sherlock's hip. Didn't bother moving. Tai stroked his back.

Sherlock grunted. "My forehead itches," he said, and John laughed and budged. Sat up, rubbed Sherlock's forehead, listened to him sigh.

"Do you want to be untied?" John asked.

"No. I find it very soothing."

"Sherlock the submissive," John said, curling around Sherlock's chest, stroking his face.

"Do I look obedient? I don't feel obedient." Sherlock smirked at him but nestled his cheek into John's hand.

"You're a sub, John," Tai said. She held Sherlock's thigh. "Sherlock being tied up ensures you can't leave him even for a second."

John smiled. Of course. "You tricky bitch," he said into Sherlock's cheek.

"I have no such designs," Sherlock said.

Tai crawled up the bed. "Yes you do," she told him.

"You're heavy," Sherlock muttered.

"Don't complain or I'll make you come," John said.

Sherlock stared at him. "You wouldn't."

"My sexuality feels very fluid these days. I think I would really enjoy giving you a blow job."

Sherlock inhaled sharply; relaxed back into the ropes. "You're playing with me. Stop."

John kissed him on the cheek. Tai giggled. They nestled together easily.

Until the door buzzed. John groaned.

"Sorry, pet, not my house," Tai said.

"I know, I know." John rolled out of bed, found his dressing gown, pulled it on as he stumbled down the stairs. Remembered to tie it closed as he walked down the second flight of stairs. Opened the door.

Dimmock.

John's brain wasn't fully engaged yet; he blinked at Dimmock. "Hello."

Dimmock checked his watch. "Sorry."

"No, no, it's not that early, it's fine," John said.

"Is Sherlock in? I," Dimmock sighed, "need him."

"Absolutely," John said. He waved Dimmock in. "I'll just go untie him." He led Dimmock up the stairs.

"He's working on something?"

"Have a seat, this might be a minute," John said, and he climbed the second set of stairs.

Tai was already untying Sherlock. "Is it work?" Sherlock asked, shaking the ropes off his ankles.

"Yes." John helped, unraveling the ropes from Sherlock's waist while Tai slipped them off his throat. Sherlock jumped up impatiently once free. "Wait!" John said. "Put something on, nudist," and he tossed Sherlock his clothes.

"Fine, fine," Sherlock said. He jumped into his trousers (both legs at once; how?) and shrugged into his shirt as he pelted down the stairs. John pulled trousers on nearly as fast.

"Coming?" he asked Tai as he found a clean shirt.

"No. I don't want to hear the details or see the pictures."

John nodded--she was always, always saner than him--and ran after Sherlock.

"Dimmock!" Sherlock cried. "Delighted to see you. What do you have?"

John rounded the corner and Dimmock eyeballed him. "You actually meant untie him?"

John looked at Sherlock. Heh. Red, swollen mouth from cocksucking, faint pink rope marks on his throat and wrists disappearing behind his cuffs and framed by his collar. "Yes."

"You're not here to investigate my sexual preferences," Sherlock growled.

"Er, no. Apparent suicide but the blood is all wrong." Dimmock pulled a digital camera from his pocket. "Look."

Sherlock looked at the pictures with John. Even on the small viewer, John could see that wasn't right; there was arterial spray, no hesitation marks. Nobody slit their wrists that well. Especially not across. She should have hit tendon and stopped, but--no. "No obvious enemies?" Sherlock asked.

"None. No boyfriend, no flatmate, doors locked and bolted from the inside, no sign of struggle, food left out for the cat. Suicide note in what looks like her own handwriting. I checked it myself against her shopping list."

Sherlock quivered with delight. "Dimmock, Dimmock! I had some uncharitable thoughts but you are far from hopeless. John, can you drive?"

"Fully recovered," John said. A bit tired, but he was a soldier. A lost night's sleep was nothing.

"Where's my wallet?"

"Kitchen counter. Don't forget shoes."

"You don't forget shoes." Sherlock glanced down.

"Ah. Just a moment," John said, and ran upstairs. Kissed Tai. She waved goodbye. Put fresh socks and shoes on, ran back downstairs to grab his biking jacket.

"I made him tie me up and fuck my mouth, of course," Sherlock said. John blinked. So did Dimmock.

"No, I meant--no, yes, right, er, my car is just outside," Dimmock said.

"We'll follow you," Sherlock said.

*

Brain against brain. Sherlock painstakingly sorted documents (fake, real, check again) and resorted (early forgeries, late forgeries, here she knew him, here she didn't) to track the suspect's progress through a young woman's life. Sherlock was the detail man (of course) and John had the big picture. "It's mostly financial docs here, but look at all those personal papers. He was looking for something," John said.

"What's not here? Look at what's not here!" Sherlock cried. He pointed. "April!" He cackled with delight and then moaned with pain as his back seized up after so long hunched over. John gave him a back rub before they took their findings to Dimmock.

*

Picture Imperfect, John titled the case. A cautionary tale of a young woman and a con artist. He wanted to draw some kind of moral message, but couldn't; he went to bed and curled up with Sherlock (sleeping peacefully and deeply, flush with success) instead.

He didn't dream.

*

Chapter Text

*

Sherlock announced, over lunch: "Lestrade has been ducking me for a week. We're going to go find out why."

While Sherlock bearded Lestrade in his lair, John sidled up to Donovan and asked: "Lestrade all right? Sherlock thinks he's avoiding us."

"He's fine. Maybe he's come to his senses."

"John!" Lestrade yelled from his office. He opened his door and jerked his head. "Inside!"

"Perfectly fine," John said, and obeyed.

"Deal with him," Lestrade said. He sat at his desk and put his head in his hands. John looked at Sherlock.

"He's having a baby! This is brilliant!" Sherlock was nearly bouncing in place, hands tented over his mouth, grinning like a schoolgirl.

Well, this was--actually, Lestrade wasn't that much older than him, only a few years. "Really?"

"Janet's pregnant, yeah. No more than two months pregnant and she's forty-one years old. We are absolutely fucking terrified and about the last people I want to discuss this with are you two. Even if you're happy," Lestrade said, eyeballing Sherlock. "Why are you happy?"

"I've never had access to a baby before! The experiments--" Sherlock said, and Lestrade started up from his chair.

"Whoa!" John got between them. "Sherlock, you are not experimenting with Lestrade's child!"

"Not dangerous experiments! Nice experiments. Enrichment."

"Don't even--you stop thinking about that! Now!" Lestrade pointed over John's shoulder.

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

John turned, backed Sherlock up a few more steps. "Sherlock, honestly, stop thinking about it."

"John," Sherlock said with abject disgust.

"We're going home," John told him. "Now."

And he frog-marched Sherlock out, to the visible delight of Donovan.

*

Reasons why we do not experiment with children:
1. No
2. No
3. No
4. No.

John, this is puerile.--SH

*

Case. A missing dog, a referral from Sherlock's mother, of all people. One of her friends was missing her prize show dog.

Fifty pounds to the homeless network did the trick. A young rent boy (addicted to heroin; the signs were naked to John's eyes. It broke his bloody heart. All he could do was mention to the boy he was a doctor, if he needed anything, and the boy nodded but didn't take him seriously, he could tell) led them to the right alley.

"Ahoy!" the man cried. The dog beside him barked. The man wore a bandanna around his head and so did the dog. The dog's expensive hair was filthy. The dog grinned from ear to ear.

Sherlock looked at John. John looked at Sherlock.

Sadly, they were unable to locate the prize pooch.

*

And then a second case, catching Sherlock while he was still in the happy, affectionate phase. "Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful," Sherlock said, looking at the mosaic of dry, polished bone. The skulls were lined up by size, the long bones formed a framework; the curved ribs, tiny phalanges, and triangular vertebrae were the strokes and dots and lines.

"Beautiful and horrifying, Sherlock," John said.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes."

Behind them, Donovan sighed. Lestrade wasn't there, so she had to hold her own leash. "Is this guy currently active?" she asked.

"No," Sherlock said sadly. "He stopped ages ago, he might even be dead. Too bad."

"That wasn't good at all," John said.

"Oh, come on, appreciate beauty where you find it! Appropriate reactions are so predictable, so dull!" Sherlock took John's hands and spun him around twice before John stopped him.

"Enough!" John barked. Sherlock wrinkled his nose and turned away.

"This is all yours, then. I'll just get working on the boring cases."

"Of course it's all mine; what could you possibly offer?" Sherlock said. He sat down on the dirty floor and cupped his chin in both hands.

Donovan looked at him, then took John by the sleeve and pulled him out of the abattoir. "Is he on something?"

"No. He's manic from the last case. Normally you see him when he's depressed from lack of work. Behold, Sherlock in a good mood, in all his weird glory," John sighed. It couldn't have been Lestrade? Though Lestrade was still snippy with them after the baby debacle. John still didn't think Sherlock understood why he wasn't allowed to experiment on colleagues' babies.

"How the hell do you do it? And why?"

"How do you not? He's extraordinary."

"So it's love, then," Donovan said.

"Absolutely."

"That's about the worst thing a copper can hear. He could do anything and you'd forgive him."

"No, actually, he couldn't."

"You say that now." Her face was serious, not mocking; but then she'd never disliked him.

"I'll take that under advisement."

"And promptly ignore it."

"Yeah," John said.

"Fine. Holmes! Time's up! Clear the crime scene!"

*

Went to therapy. Femur 12 shows nutritional defects consistent with rickets. Ulna 4 has healed spiral fracture. Tibia 2 was healed of a bacterial infection. Skull 2 is fuck-ugly. Have fun.

*

John sat at his computer, debating writing up the Case of the Bone House; finally he just typed, "Finished a case. Can't talk about it. One for the memoirs." He closed his computer and joined Sherlock outside the window.

The windows were covered with wrought iron bars. After extensive testing, Sherlock determined that they were strong enough to take his weight; now he was standing on the window sill, leaning on the bars, smoking a meditative cigar over Baker Street. John perched on the sill next to him, arm around Sherlock's knees.

Their neighbour, the married gay, was sitting in the next window, in his own little grate. "Afternoon," John said.

"I seduced Ben with my brother's Havanas," Sherlock said.

"I quit smoking years ago, but this is barely smoking, now is it?" Ben smiled.

"No. Doesn't count a bit," Sherlock said. He drank in the smoke. Shouldn't be sexy, bitter smoke and carcinogens. Was. John stroked Sherlock's calf.

"I thought you weren't gay?" Ben asked.

"No, we're shagging now," John said.

"Who are you talking to?" Mehdi said, faint inside the flat.

"The neighbours. They are shagging, dear, you were right."

"Told you. The doctor protests too much." Mehdi leaned out. "Ben! You promised you quit!"

"I did. This is Cuban, not some street corner trash."

"If you start again you're out on your arse. I'm not having my house smell like Lindsay Lohan's armpits." Mehdi drew back in with a sharply raised eyebrow.

Ben grinned. "That's me told."

John stood, picked up the skull from the fireplace. It needed polishing. He leaned on the window frame beside Sherlock with the bone and the cloth.

"I can't work out what you do for a living," Sherlock said. "Normally I can."

"Just from looking?" Ben asked.

"From living next to you, certainly. It's easy enough to determine that Mehdi is a professional photographer. But you're harder to pin down. Interesting."

"How can you tell what Mehdi does? Did Mrs. Turner tell you?"

"No. I can smell the dark room from my bedroom when the wind is right. But I would know anyway; his hours are irregular, but he makes a lot of money," Sherlock said. "He makes all the money, in fact. He buys your clothes bespoke. He has a strong artistic bent; your rings are handmade, custom, platinum, and frankly lovely."

Ben smiled at his ring. "Thank you."

"Money, artistic, interest in photography: Professional photographer, and a successful one. Obvious. But you; you're a puzzle. Pen calluses. Who writes longhand any more? You write a lot but don't or can't type. You keep regular hours, but with occasional emergency call-outs, so you're a person of some import, but they don't pay you any money. And you've travelled: Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Ethiopia. Are you a charity worker?"

Ben blinked. "No."

"I'm stumped," Sherlock said, ashing over the pavement. "That's so irritating."

"What do you do?" Ben asked.

"Consulting detective. When the police have a problem they can't solve, they ask me, and I sort it out for them."

"That's a real job?" Ben asked.

"Well, I invented it."

"Entrepreneur," John contributed, popping back into the window.

Ben looked at the skull. "Well. You two are very interesting," Ben said.

"Not me. I'm boring. I follow him around and make sure he remembers to eat. Price of genius and all that," John said.

Ben smiled with one side of his mouth. "Do you want me to tell you what I do?"

"Translator!" Sherlock shouted, making John jump. "Am I right?"

Ben smiled fully. "Yes. I translate for the NHS. I write by hand because I translate doctor's instructions and so forth into Arabic, and it's easier to write than to go find a computer with an Arabic keyboard."

"Fantastic!" Sherlock hugged John's waist with glee.

"Oof," John said. "Don't make me drop your friend."

*

"Can you come over?" Tai asked. "Mary is poorly and I can't work out if she's ill or in a downswing."

John could come over. Mary was in bed with a sheet drawn over her. She clearly hadn't bathed in a few days. "Hi," John said.

"They're that worried?" Mary asked.

"They are."

"I'd better get up, then, so they don't fret."

"They love you," John said.

"I know." Her face crumpled. She pressed the back of her hand to her face. Tai came in with tea and toast.

"Can you stand to talk yet?" Tai asked.

"I'm fine," Mary said.

Tai climbed into bed and hugged her. Mary rolled into her arms and sniffed. "I can't believe you got Dr. John over."

"He does what I tell him," Tai said.

"Oi! I do what I like!"

"And you like doing what I tell you."

Mary made a start on the tea. Tai sat beside her. "I never showed you what Sherlock gave me for Christmas, did I?" she said to Mary.

"No."

Tai pulled a small photo album out of her pocket. "Pictures of me before I was married."

"Wait, what?" John sat at Tai's knee.

"I got married to the wrong man when I was seventeen. I thought I'd lost all my pictures when I left him, but look."

Tai at sixteen was slight and blond and round-cheeked, not as sharp in the face as she was in her maturity. A sweet girl, John thought, but not a very interesting one.

And the nose... her nose was different. That didn't change with age. She'd had plastic surgery. But that wasn't something you asked a lady about, so John shut his face.

"To remind me that you can go through bad times and still be okay? I know that," Mary said, but she leaned against Tai. Tai kissed her forehead.

*

Nine-thirty. Knock on the door. "If it's not a crime, I'm not interested," Sherlock said.

"I know, monkey toes," John said. He set down his book and jogged down the stairs.

And it was Lestrade. "I'm calling in a favour," he said.

John looked at the overnight bag he carried. "Need a bed for the night?" He ushered Lestrade inside.

Lestrade nodded, came inside. "Janet kicked me out. She's having morning sickness around the clock. Awful. Nothing works. I'm banished until she forgives me for having a penis." He climbed the stairs.

"How long is that?"

"A week, last time. This time, I'm hoping for morning." He paused on the first floor.

"You can have Sherlock's bed as long as you like. He's never in it."

Which made Lestrade shift his weight from one foot to the other. "Sofa's fine," he said.

"Sofa's taken," Sherlock said. He crossed his ankles defiantly on the armrest.

"No, really," John said. "Sherlock hasn't slept in his own bed since..."

"April last," Sherlock said. "And we've had sex on the sofa thirty-six times."

Which raised Lestrade's eyebrows. He pointed over the sofa. "You shag under the Queen?" he asked, sounding offended.

"Her Majesty has never objected," Sherlock said.

Lestrade shook his head and climbed up the stairs. "Worked through your troubles, then?"

"You could say that." John opened Sherlock's door.

Sherlock's room contained:
1. A bare mattress.
2. A chair.
3. Mountains and mountains of books, tidied into tall stacks against the walls. Those books that wouldn't fit into the ceiling-high stacks were organized in tight spine-up rows across the floor, like a horizontal bookcase, with walking paths between each row. John's work, of course. He supposed Sherlock approved because he hadn't undone it.

Sherlock's actual clothes were in John's wardrobe, as were the dual laundry baskets for clothes to wash and clothes to dry clean. When Sherlock's books migrated into John's room, John took them right back out again.

Lestrade looked at the piles. "Have these ever fallen?" He set his bag on the chair very carefully.

"It's all paperbacks around the bed," John said.

Lestrade measured the height of the stacks with his arms as John clothed the mattress with fresh sheets and a blanket. "You know, this bed originally had a frame. I don't know what happened there," John said, wondering when Mrs. Hudson would notice.

"Firewood?"

"We get six papers a day; that's kindling enough." John tossed a pillow onto the finished bed. "Beer?"

Lestrade nodded. "Thanks."

The thing was, of course, that Lestrade had nobody else to cadge a bed from, John reflected. He knew that everyone Lestrade liked at the station was under him or over him. Family all in the next county. But Sherlock, and by extension John, they owed him for allowing them into crime scenes, and he could call in that favour without any tricky negotiations of rank. John was an officer. He knew how that went. He'd suffered through eighteen months in the field without hitting on a single one of the fit young female soldiers around him. He pulled two beers from the fridge, popped the caps. "To women," he said. "To the pleasure and pain."

Lestrade clinked his bottle. They drank. Sherlock made a rude noise from the sofa.

"But you're shagging him, so," Lestrade said.

"I'm still seeing Tai. Polyamorous relationship. Both at the same time, more often than not."

"Christ," said Lestrade from the heart. "Good fucking luck with that."

"Yeah, cheers." John quirked half a smile. "So--Janet's at... three months?"

"Yeah. Still scared--I'm scared, I mean--but she says she feels all right, apart from the nausea. She was this sick with Luke, too, so that's normal. Everything so far, the tests, everything has been normal." Lestrade took a huge swig, leaned back in the kitchen chair. "It's just me. I'm too damn old for this."

"No you're not. You're wise, not old. You've had practice, now you're perfect." John grinned.

"If you don't want it, why not just abort it?" Sherlock said.

They both looked at him. "Sherlock, shut the fuck up," John said.

Sherlock sighed loudly.

"Luke is a great kid. I just thought we were done, we finished, that's all. Not that we would start all over again."

"But a bit thrilling," John said.

Lestrade smiled. "Yeah. You ever thought about kids?"

"Well... I was engaged once. She had a big house in the suburbs, she was starting to talk about wanting a boy and a girl both and how they should be spaced and... then I signed up with the Army," John said. "Broke it off before I deployed. So I suppose I don't want kids; I've ruled it out for myself."

"I suppose you're not going to knock him up," Lestrade said.

"Certainly not; even if one of us produced ova, you have our sexual roles backwards," Sherlock said. "John's cock would never fit up my rectum." Lestrade coughed, grinned at John.

"True," John said. "Sherlock has a nice small prick. Comfort-sized." He wiggled his pinky.

Lestrade drained his beer. Leaned forward. "Does it hurt, when you get used to it? I worry about Luke. He's so slight."

"Mm." John leaned forward also. "Does Janet have false nails?"

"No, short. No, we've done that. Surely it's different with a todger than with fingers?"

"Get a vibrator, mate. Try it yourself. It's fantastic. I've been taking it up the arse from women for years before I even thought about crossing the fence."

"Good GOD!" Sherlock yelled at the ceiling. "Are we going to discuss ANYTHING other than sex?"

John and Lestrade both looked at him. "Tits," John said.

"Fake or real?"

"Real," John said. "Can't beat that softness."

"Yes, yes, fine." Sherlock got up, got a beer from the fridge. John looked at him dubiously, got himself and Lestrade a second round. "If I'm going to be subjected to man talk, I want the prop," Sherlock said.

John smiled and clinked glasses with Sherlock. So did Lestrade. Sherlock drank and said, "I know twenty-four drinking games and two hundred eighty-seven dirty jokes. A large part of my work takes place in pubs. I'm fully prepared to do my part."

John looked at Lestrade. "Did you see the match?"

"Yeah, brilliant," Lestrade said.

"Rooney's conduct was reprehensible," Sherlock said, glaring at them both triumphantly.

"Bloody hell, you are ready," Lestrade said.

*

Chapter Text

*

Cleaning day, burning day. It was too bloody hot but they had to have the fire for security. Receipts, notes, the usual trash. But then he found the list in Sherlock's handwriting: the rules.

"That absolutely needs to be burned. I'm shocked you haven't earlier," Sherlock said irritably.

"Well, it's interesting. Have you decided where I rank in the scale of prison to mental hospital?"

Sherlock breathed deeply, leaned closer. He trailed the backs of his fingers over John's cheek. "No. None of those options is tolerable."

John turned his cheek into Sherlock's hand, kissed his palm. Salt sweat. "You're being very nice to me," John said.

"You've shown me how."

"And not faking." The best part.

"You catch me."

"I know you," John said. "I know when you mean it. Empathy and all that. Mirror neurons."

"Mm, talk science to me," Sherlock said, and he smiled and drew John into his lap to kiss him. Because he wanted to kiss John, for whatever reason he had that made sense to someone who wasn't really into sex.

If he were a sociopath, really, he'd be a much better liar. So how... All thirteen-year-olds were brutes, certainly, but why would Mycroft let him keep a diagnosis that could in fact lead to him being sectioned?

Until (stroking Sherlock's shoulder, watching Sherlock's eyes slit with pleasure, touching his tongue to Sherlock's) it abruptly made sense. Mycroft let the diagnosis stand so that Mycroft could use it against his worrying brother. And Sherlock didn't see it because he had no social skills and no perspective.

John sat back, heart pounding. "What?" Sherlock asked. Shifting his foot underneath himself, ready to jump into action.

"We need to get you to a psychiatrist. You need an updated diagnosis. We need to lay the groundwork--my word wouldn't be enough, and Ella isn't a doctor."

"Why? What did you work out?"

"Sherlock, have you ever crossed Mycroft? I don't mean kid stuff, I mean--"

"Just the time when I burned down my flat. He was furious, but when I agreed to quit the cocaine, he helped me. John. You think--"

"False diagnosis to control you."

Sherlock was silent, his eyes wide.

"I'll talk to Ella at my next appointment." Sherlock had private insurance; he could see a new doctor quickly. Mycroft would find out but that couldn't be helped. "We'll tell Mycroft..."

Sherlock looked down. Dumbstruck; that wasn't good.

John took his face in his hands and kissed his eyelids. "I'll think of something. This is what I'm good at."

*

"John. You convinced my brother to see a psychiatrist?"

Sherlock looked up, tension quivering through his body. "Yeah," John said. "He's a bit of a firebug, your brother. I caught him making--what was it, Sherlock?"

"An experiment!" Sherlock yelled, loud enough to be heard on the phone.

"Right. Well, therapy has worked so well for me; I thought he might like to work on his issues. Which are legion."

"It won't last."

"I have to try."

"Best of luck." Mycroft hung up. Sherlock turned back to his violin and played scales.

*

The new shrink agreed not only to let John sit in on the first session, but to take no notes. She was a small Scottish woman that reminded John a bit of his mother. "I'm Dr. Lydia Gowan," she said. "Call me whatever makes you most comfortable."

"I won't be comfortable no matter what I call you," Sherlock said.

Dr. Gowan sat back and crossed her ankles. "Why don't you tell me why you're here?"

"Because--" John started.

She lifted a finger. "Not you."

"Sorry."

Sherlock looked at John. John raised his eyebrows: Get on with it, Sherlock.

Sherlock looked back at the doctor and said, "Because I believe I have a personality disorder and John believes I'm just a wanker."

"Who would you like to be right?" she asked.

"That doesn't matter. You're the expert; I yield to expertise when appropriate."

"But what result are you hoping to hear?"

Sherlock exhaled. "The truth. What I want is irrelevant; the truth is the truth. You're asking if I've been behaving like a sociopath because I like the diagnosis and like having an excuse to behave badly? I would rather have truth than fiction, whatever the truth is."

So Sherlock didn't actually think he was a sociopath either. Huh. Sherlock looked highly uncomfortable. "Would you like John to go?" Dr. Gowan asked, picking up on Sherlock's uneasiness.

"No. I'm not entirely sure you're not a plant by my enemies."

"That, that is not paranoia, he really does have enemies," John cut in swiftly.

"I'm a consulting detective. I've found out people who would very much rather I hadn't. At least two are powerful enough to plant a false psychiatrist."

"And you trust John to see through me?"

"I trust John implicitly," Sherlock said. It sent a flutter through John's stomach.

"Am I putting myself in danger by seeing you?"

"Doubtful. The newsagent is fine, and so is our favourite Chinese delivery girl. Either of them would be more fruitful agents of disruption. I'm not overly worried," Sherlock said with a tilt of his mouth. "I've already checked you out. You come highly recommended."

"Gratifying," Dr. Gowan said. "Well. We're evaluating you for antisocial behaviour disorder. Tell me your social history, then. Do you have many friends?"

"No." Firm, definitive.

"But one very good friend."

"The best. John, you're blushing."

"Any more of that and I'll be giggling behind my hand like a Japanese schoolgirl."

"But you are the best," Sherlock said. John ducked his head behind his hand and tittered. Sherlock let out his breath in what was nearly a laugh. "Most people keep my at arm's length and with most people I'm fine with that. John is not only my closest friend but my first lover."

It was a bit worrying, when you said it like that. Sherlock pinned everything on him. John hoped he was up to the role.

"Family?"

"A brother. He thinks he knows everything and he's nearly right. We're fairly close. And my mother... I disappoint my mother. She wants me to be something splashy, some public figure. I was close to my father, though." Sherlock frowned. "He was sixty when I was born. A veteran of World War II. Then he came home and became a botanist. He was solitary, like I am, and understood me very well; but he died when I was thirteen. Mummy thought I didn't react to his death appropriately and took me to a psychiatrist who then diagnosed me as a sociopath. I wasn't affected because I can't be touched in that way. I don't have a heart."

"Which is, of course, utter bollocks," John said. "Sorry. I'll shut my mouth."

Sherlock smiled. He caught John's hand and raised it to his lips. "I have you fooled, at least."

"Thoroughly fooled." If John was wrong about this, he was wrong about everything. Absolutely everything.

"Do you think we can work together?" Dr. Gowan asked. "I don't think you take long to make decisions."

Sherlock brushed his thumb over John's hand. He gave Dr. Gowan a long, hard look, which she returned evenly. "We can," Sherlock said.

"Good. I'd like to see you daily for the next two weeks. At that point, we should know each other very well. Will four o'clock do?"

"Yes," Sherlock said.

*

Sherlock was in a foul mood for the next two weeks. "I'm not a misogynist," he said on day four.

"Did she say you were?"

"She implied it. I treat everyone equally. When men slut around, I'm just as hard on them."

"What's wrong with slutting around?"

Sherlock bared his teeth and paced.

"I've slutted around more than I've been in relationships," John said, thinking fondly about his twenties. "I tore up the town before I deployed. Tai was only meant to be a one night stand. It's because she liked you that she lasted."

"See? I like women. Not a misogynist!" Sherlock flung himself onto the sofa, then jumped back up again. He pressed his hands to the window and sighed.

"This wouldn't bother you so much if you were a sociopath," John said.

Sherlock snorted, picked up his keys and phone from the desk, and ran down the stairs.

He returned in the middle of the night, smelling of exhaust and chips, and snuggled up behind John in bed. "There you are," John murmured. "Now I can sleep."

Sherlock pressed his face to the back of John's shoulders and clutched John's chest. Didn't say anything.

"It's difficult reevaluating your self-image, isn't it?" John asked.

Sherlock sighed.

"And so helpful to have a kind and supportive partner."

Sherlock grunted. John stroked his hand.

*

At the end of the two weeks, Sherlock came home very quietly and lay down on the sofa, hands under his chin. Tai was over; she started to get up, but John stopped her. Sherlock would demand service when he needed it. They watched telly instead, Tai sitting in the velvet chair and John sitting on the floor, leaning against her legs.

After half an hour, Sherlock spoke: "I'm not a sociopath. Her logic is impeccable. I am a loner, but possessed of a conscience and fully capable of making emotional connections, which is the primary criterion. She doesn't consider that I have any identifiable personality disorder."

"Good," John said, standing. "That's what we wanted." Relief. One less gun pointed at Sherlock's head.

"She said that I used my diagnosis to bully people, that I have misogynistic tendencies, and that I'm not a true asexual, it's an excuse to avoid intimacy. We argued extensively about those conclusions and I don't accept them."

"You are a bully," John said. He sat on the arm of the sofa and pinched Sherlock's toe between thumb and forefinger.

Sherlock frowned. "Bottom line, I'm perfectly sane, she'd swear to it in court, and it's up to me if I want to work on my personality flaws or not."

"So you've been deciding?"

"I loathe psychotherapy," Sherlock said, looking at John. But he didn't continue.

"So you're not going back, then?"

Sherlock looked at his face. "No," Sherlock said, examining him. "No, my personality flaws have served me very well."

"I'm not thrilled with the misogyny," Tai said.

"I'm not a misogynist! The only thing I have against women is that they aren't serial killers! Generally!" Sherlock flailed dramatically.

"Mm-hmm," Tai said.

Sherlock sat up long enough for John to sit beside him, then curled up in his lap. John rubbed his head. Tai came over, slipped under his feet, and rubbed his hand.

*

Ashley: I find that the idea of pain excites me more than the application.
Tai: Yeah that happens.
Ashley: But why should there be this disconnect? I'm well aware of what pain feels like.
Tai: Because the mental processing of sensation is different from the physical process. Adrenaline vs endorphins etc. I think your body is low on pleasure chemicals or something.
Ashley: I don't feel anhedonic.
Tai: thank you that's the word. I'm buying you a vibrator and butt plug btw. You need to train yourself to come and like it.
Ashley: No I don't.
Tai: Do.
Ashley: I really don't.
Tai: Orgasms are nature's gift.
Ashley: I decline.
Tai: Don't be stubborn just for the sake of being odd.
Ashley: I have no need or desire to do any such thing.
Tai: Bollocks.
Tai: Oh, and a wank sleeve. There are these Japanese pocket pussies that feel unlike anything on earth. They make me wish I had a cock so I could use them. I gave John some and he loves them.
Tai: sherlock come on.
Tai: knock knock
Tai: Coward.

*

From: Bill Murray
To: John Watson
Subject: Up to London for a day

Letitia's out of town for business tomorrow fortnight. I thought I'd go up to the city. Busy? I'll have Hope with me, fair warning.

From: John Watson
To: Bill Murray
Subject: Re: Up to London for a day

No, not busy. I don't think we'd better take the baby to the pub, though. Ever been on the London Eye? You'll see what you're missing, out in the country.

From: Bill Murray
To: John Watson
Subject: Re: Up to London for a day

Fuck off! My mum's in Birmingham. Tell me where I'm getting free nanny service in London.

Yeah, the Eye sounds fine. Never been on it.

*

"Hide and seek," John texted to Sherlock. Then he sat, head down, on the bench, hot sun on his scalp, coffee cup in his hand. Feeling nothing.

It took Sherlock fifteen minutes. "You changed your password," he said. "I couldn't guess it."

"Hurrah," John said. It was Iv96;;[gC. Took him twenty minutes to memorize.

"So I had to access your email through the web server instead." Sherlock sat beside John, took his coffee, drank. "Eugh. Cold."

John leaned against his shoulder. Sherlock stroked John's knee. "You'll have to help me," Sherlock said. "I'm rubbish at moods, even yours."

"Bill's baby is adorable," John said.

"Which is a good thing, generally."

John paused; kept pausing. Didn't know how to say it. Sherlock finally lost patience, got up, did something.

"I hired the whole pod. Come on, we board in five minutes," Sherlock said, holding out his hand to John.

John took his hand. Stood, numb. Inside the pod, he stretched out on the bench in the middle, looked at the Thames. Sherlock sat beside him and ran his fingers through John's hair. "This is a very bad mood," Sherlock said.

"Yes," John said softly.

"You saw a baby and it made you feel like this. You don't want children; I didn't detect any regrets."

"No," John said.

"The baby is a year old--no, thirteen months. Preverbal but walking; you have handprints on your shins. But... it's not really about the baby. Spurred by the baby but not about the baby. John, you're not breathing."

John inhaled sharply. He turned over, shifted up, put his head in Sherlock's lap. Sherlock ran his nails over John's shoulder.

"Thirteen months, plus nine months gestation," John said. "It's enough time to make a human being, but not enough time to fix one."

"Ah," Sherlock said. He shut his mouth with a click.

John looked at the Thames. Light reflecting off the water. Ships. Birds. People. Seven and a half million people just getting on with it. "I can hear you pointedly not saying something," John said.

"I'm working on my social cues. If I said what it occurred to me to say, you'd be angry."

"Say it anyway. I prefer being angry to numb."

Sherlock trailed his hand up to John's cheek. "Then: I like you broken."

"You thought that would make me angry?"

"It doesn't?"

"No. I knew that."

Sherlock sighed. "John, you still surprise me." He slid out from under John's head, knelt down, smiling, head tilted, kissed him.

Feeling roared back. Adrenaline. He wasn't even present without danger or sex any more; he was sleepwalking from stimulant to stimulant. He kissed back. Sherlock, never the safe option, who liked his sharp edges and broken pieces. Hand in Sherlock's hair, pulling him closer.

Sherlock touched his stomach through the T-shirt. John grabbed Sherlock's collar, crumpling the crisp point. He was hell on Sherlock's tailoring. Sherlock didn't care.

Hand under his shirt, on his stomach. Fingertips under his waistband. Sherlock smiled against his mouth, unfastened his jeans.

Stroked him erect. In a glass box over the Thames; they were going to get arrested, but not for twenty minutes, so the hell with it. "Mouth," he said to Sherlock.

"Exactly my thought, my dear John," Sherlock said, and moved down, on his knees beside the bench. John still on his side; Sherlock drew his top leg over his shoulder, cradled his thigh, pointed John's cock at his mouth and sucked in the head.

Sherlock, who loved his shattered self so much that he'd learned to do this against his own inclination. There was no answering stir in Sherlock's trousers. Why? But there was no answering that question.

Sherlock slurped noisily and enthusiastically at John's cock. John held out his hand and Sherlock took it, thumbs skidding madly over John's hand and thigh. John pulled Sherlock in with his leg.

Came in Sherlock's mouth at the top of the Eye.

Sherlock swallowed. He kissed John's stomach, rolled him onto his back and sniffed over his stomach, armpits, up his throat. Rubbed his nose over John's throat, rubbed his cheek against John's stubble. This was what Sherlock really enjoyed. Full access. Free rein.

Sherlock climbed on top of him, curled around him, nose against John's neck. They both looked at the city.

"I love this city," John said.

"So do I," Sherlock said.

John zipped up before the bottom. They weren't arrested.

*

Chapter Text

*

No case. Tai came over. "Where's Sherlock?"

John pointed upwards.

They joined him on the roof. There was a ladder hidden at the back of a cupboard that led to a trap door that led to the peaked roof, which one could stand on if one was careful. Sherlock was checking for spy equipment.

It looked like he'd finished. He was standing next to the chimney looking toward Regent's Park. John and Tai sat in the trap door. "It's nice up here," Tai said. "Above the car exhaust. You get a bit of a breeze."

Sherlock had a paper in his hand. He shoved it into his pocket. He slid down the roof nimbly, shimmied past John and Tai through the trap door, and disappeared into the house. "Come on, then!" he called from inside. John raised his eyebrow and climbed down the ladder, steadying Tai as she climbed down after him. He locked the trap door behind them.

Sherlock left a trail of clothes to the bedroom. John picked up after him, shirt and trousers, underwear and socks. He tossed them into the corner once he came into the bedroom and saw Sherlock kneeling on the bed. Tai closed the door. "I want you to penetrate me, John," Sherlock said.

John started to ask if he was sure; stopped. This was Sherlock. He was sure. "All right, then." He started stripping as Sherlock watched, head hanging down.

"But you don't like being fucked," Tai said.

"I haven't tried all the variables yet. I'm strangely drawn to John," Sherlock said, his voice low. "It makes any number of unlikely things pleasurable."

The window was open behind the curtains. A cool breeze swirled through the room, making Sherlock and John both shiver. John sat beside him and stroked his back. Tai sat at the head of the bed, still clothed.

John's first impulse was foreplay. He would bring a woman off at least once before trying the back door, but of course, Sherlock didn't like that. Instead he kissed Sherlock's side open-mouthed. Tender skin, smooth muscle. Sherlock's arse was all muscle, no padding, marked by a bruise on the opposite hip that John didn't know the history of.

He had to relax Sherlock without trying to arouse him. Trust Sherlock to make sex into chess. He scratched Sherlock's back with his nails. "What are you doing?" Sherlock asked.

"You're asking me to put a turnip through a hair elastic. I need to stretch the elastic first." John tried the direct approach. He slicked his thumb (huge bottle of lube by the side of the bed, cheerfully provided by Tai with her employee discount) and slid inside Sherlock's body. He stroked, stretched, and kissed Sherlock's inner thigh.

"Sherlock, roll over so you can see John," Tai said. John withdrew and Sherlock did.

"What are you afraid of?" Sherlock asked.

"Hurting you," John said, remembering A&E, loving Sherlock.

"I won't let you. We have a spotter, besides," Sherlock said. He indicated Tai. John smiled.

"Fine." He pressed back into Sherlock's arse, coaxing him open gently.

He took his time. Sherlock never hardened, but John knew not to use that as a barometer. He wasn't quite sure why Sherlock wanted this; he was out of his depth, so he just kept swimming. He kissed Sherlock and proceeded pressing two fingers into his arse until they slid easily in and out.

Sherlock looked meditative. His fingers twitched and he stroked John's supporting arm. "Tell me if you change your mind. Any time, Sherlock, just tell me."

"Of all the things to worry about, you think I won't talk?" Sherlock said. John kissed him, because, well, yes. "I thought your flesh might feel different from a toy and I was right. It's you, inside me, and it's rather remarkable."

"You are so in love," Tai said, and kissed Sherlock.

"I'm ready. I was ready twenty minutes ago," Sherlock said.

John kissed him again. "You'll see." He pulled his fingers out and put a condom on. He considered his position; Sherlock raised his feet to John's chest, just as John had done before, and John kissed the soft skin of his instep. He stroked the smooth skin down Sherlock's thighs, splaying Sherlock's legs open as he moved in. He raised one leg onto his shoulder and bent the other flat on the bed (so wonderfully flexible).

Then he slowly pushed his cock into Sherlock's body. Sherlock inhaled and inhaled again, drawing his body up away from the intrusion. Tai took his hand and Sherlock exhaled, letting John in. John kissed his stomach.

"Do it," Sherlock said. He tilted his head back and writhed around John.

John pressed in further. "Talk to me," he murmured, fighting to keep control.

Sherlock swallowed. "Nerve endings. I picture them connecting--what would happen if they did--would I feel your body and my own?"

Which made John imagine the spiderweb of nerves through his body grasping like octopus suckers as he dragged his skin against Sherlock's. He rubbed his cheek against Sherlock's chest. He mouthed his nipple and Sherlock hummed. "Come on. As if you could hurt me," Sherlock said.

John bit down on Sherlock's nipple and waited for him to yelp. Sherlock breathed through his nose, wordlessly, until John stopped and laughed. His cock was all the way in. "Here, here we are," John breathed. "That's everything."

"Everything," Sherlock echoed. Pressure slammed down on John's cock; John cried out and clutched Sherlock's hip. He must be doing it. Must be. John sobbed in a breath and tried not to thrust. He'd hurt him.

Sherlock cupped John's head and pulled him down against himself. Sherlock didn't speak and John couldn't. He was holding onto control (couldn't hurt Sherlock, he was tight, virginal, new) but then Sherlock pulled his hair and then, oh, oh, it slipped away.

He shouted into Sherlock's skin. Hips to hips, the friction, irresistible, inevitable; he shook into Sherlock's body. Sherlock flushed pink beneath him and John shivered into sweat and John moved just enough that he could feel Sherlock's body dragging against every millimeter of his cock (nerve to nerve, connecting and reconnecting, connected so intimately, inside and outside).

When he came, he froze, paralysed by sensation from forehead to toe. He unfroze from toe to forehead, melting down on Sherlock's body.

Sherlock rubbed John's hair. "Tell me, tell me you're all right. Tell me," John gasped.

"Yes," Sherlock answered. He sounded far away.

John sighed. "Oh, you can't have enjoyed that."

"Pet," Tai said. John blinked up at her. "Sex doesn't have to be perfect."

"I wanted to know, and now I know," Sherlock said.

John sighed again and stroked Sherlock's chest.

*

From: Tai Morstan
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: don't try to be normal

You have nothing to prove.

From: Sherlock Holmes
To: Mary "Tai" Morstan
Subject: I never have.

It was unpleasant as encounters with John go, but no experience with John can be considered truly bad.

From: Tai Morstan
To: Sherlock Holmes
Subject: lovebirds

*tweet tweet*

*

They had a case, a private affair, a stolen watch. Heirloom. Sherlock had seen something interesting, not that he would say what, and had left John with the grandson's medical files and belongings. He then didn't hear from Sherlock in ages. Three calls and ten text messages later, he got a call from Dimmock.

He got to the station as fast as he could (Tube; it was rush hour). When he arrived, Dimmock was there to meet him. "He's gone all funny. The paramedics are here but he won't let them touch him."

"Funny how?" John asked.

"Covering his face and not talking," Dimmock said.

"Could be thinking."

"And not responding to EMT?"

"Yeah," John said. "I'll get him sorted, don't worry."

But he saw Tai before Sherlock. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Looking at the colours," she said, hugging him.

"You--what?"

"There are so many colours. I think I was dosed. With something. Something sparkly." She kissed him.

"They came in together," Dimmock said. He looked about as worried as John felt.

"Come on, pet, we're going to find Sherlock," John said. Tai waved her hand in the air and nodded.

It wasn't hard to find Sherlock. There were four police and two green-clad paramedics standing around Dimmock's desk; two of the police were wrestling with the desk chair. "Leave it, leave it!" Dimmock called out. "He's hallucinating. It's medical."

John peered under the desk. Yeah. Sherlock. "I'm here," he told Sherlock. Tai giggled and lay down on top of Dimmock's desk.

"How does he know I'm hallucinating? HOW DOES HE KNOW WHAT I'M SEEING?" Sherlock demanded, sounding panicked.

"Because Tai is hallucinating, and you were together, right?"

"But how does he KNOW?"

"I know, and I told him," John said.

"Oh." Sherlock shoved the chair out abruptly. "Can you see into my brain? I can see into yours." His eyes were wild, the pupils enormous.

"Yes," John said.

Sherlock knelt up, taking John's hand, looking terrified. He gripped it too hard. "Do you still love me?" A real question. Poor sod. Not a good trip.

"Yes," John said.

Sherlock lunged for him, still on his knees, catching him around the waist, squeezing desperately, muttering about the angles. John stroked his hair. "If they've been poisoned, that's assault," Dimmock said. "We'll need blood for evidence."

"Who's on forensics today?" John asked. Thomas was fine; Anderson, not so fine.

"Anderson."

"Bollocks. Tai? Can the Inspector have some of your blood?"

"Why?" Tai asked.

"To count the sparkles."

She laughed. "I'm drugged, I'm not FIVE."

"Sorry, love. They need your blood for evidence."

"Sure."

"I'm guessing Sherlock is going to be harder," Dimmock said, looking at Sherlock, who was hiding his face in John's stomach.

Sherlock jumped back. "What?" He stared up at Dimmock, his face a mask of horror.

"Sherlock," John said.

"The angles," Sherlock breathed. "They don't add up. John, how can you stand it?" Sherlock stood and cupped John's face.

"Army training," John said. He gestured to the paramedics. "I'm going to do some stuff, all right?"

"Gnh," Sherlock groaned, hiding his face in John's shoulder.

"I'm going to use someone else's hands."

Sherlock nodded against John's neck. John waved the medics in.

The men in green looked at each other. The shorter one took Tai. "Hello, dear, my name is Terry," he said. "We'll just make sure you're all right."

"I'm glowing," she said happily. "You're green. John has a ten-inch cock. Things are fiiiiiine."

The taller man snorted. "Eddie," he said.

"I'm pretty sure I can keep him from freaking out," John said.

"Ta." Eddie put a pulse monitor on Sherlock's finger.

"I am not freaking out. The angles are wrong, they are WRONG. This is a perfectly normal reaction!" Sherlock snapped. He started to pull away, but John held onto him.

"Sorry," John said. "I didn't notice the angles."

"You don't notice anything."

"No. That's why I have you, to notice things for me."

Sherlock nodded, then shuddered and closed his eyes. "Pulse a bit high," Eddie said mildly.

Anderson approached. John made sure Sherlock's back was to him, but then Anderson went and spoke: "What the hell happened here?"

Sherlock hissed, stiffened, and turned. "Anderson!" He hooked an arm around John's neck and inched them away. "He's come to steal my vital fluids!"

"Someone gave Holmes a hallucinogen," Dimmock said. "And his girlfriend, but she's enjoying it more."

"You're not going to abandon Tai, are you?" John asked.

Sherlock looked back, visibly torn.

"It's all right. I'm controlling Anderson's hands," John said.

"ARE you?" Sherlock turned back to John. "How?"

John tapped his nose. "Go ahead, Anderson," John said.

Sherlock stared at John in amazement as Anderson collected evidence from Tai and Sherlock both. Tai giggled wildly as the needle went in; Sherlock submitted numbly. He continued staring at John as the paramedics made sure nothing worse was going to happen. "How are you doing it?" Sherlock breathed, finally.

John waggled both his eyebrows. Sherlock made a broken noise and buried his face in John's shoulder. "I think we'd better go to hospital," he said to Terry and Eddie.

"No point with a hallucinogen. They're just flying," Eddie said. "I'm not refusing, mind, but your boyfriend will just be having his bad trip in the hospital waiting room."

"Damn, you're right," John said. He knew A&E triage.

"I'll run you home and start looking into who did this," Dimmock said, checking his watch. The paramedics started packing up.

"No!" Tai said. "Stay here and have sex. I'm all comfortable."

"No! He can't shag me with Anderson's hands! That's horrible!" Sherlock said, grabbing John.

"Awww." Tai stood and leaned on John's back. She rubbed her hips against his arse suggestively.

Dimmock retrieved a form that had paperclipped itself to Tai's hair. "Both?" he asked John. "Really?"

"Yes, yes, both," John said.

Sherlock looked up. "NOT WITH ANDERSON'S HANDS," he said.

*

At home, Tai waltzed around the sitting room, singing songs of her own devising. Sherlock took one look at the sofa and shrank back against the stairs. John took him upstairs and put him to bed, hoping that darkness would ease the horror of it all.

His phone vibrated.

Donovan: Ur shagging him AND her?

She must have heard from Dimmock.

Watson: Yes.

Donovan: Ur mad. Go off with her and make some babies.

The only excuse John had for his response was that it was very late and he was very, very tired.

Watson: I have a ten-inch cock. Its a two-person job.

There was a long pause, and John thought perhaps he'd shut her up. Then she sent him a link to a newly created Facebook fan page. John Watson's Ten-Inch Cock. He laughed; it was funny. He sent the link to Sherlock, Tai, and Lestrade, then signed into his Facebook account and Liked his own cock.

Watson: I didnt know you were so fond of me.

Donovan: I dont have to be fond to be impressed.

Sherlock crawled out from under the covers and into John's arms. "John, I can feel his hands inside me. His hands. They're still here. Stop them, please."

John stroked Sherlock's hair. "I will," he said. Suspecting--nothing; stopping himself. He unbuttoned Sherlock's shirt, cuffs, and checked him for marks of violence. Should have done this already. Should check Tai as well, but she was so damn happy. He could hear her singing to the cow skull lamp.

"You know so few facts," Sherlock murmured. He bit John's shirt, warm and wet, and worried it between his teeth. John pulled the shirt off him and ran his fingers over Sherlock's pale (dark brown moles, which he checked automatically) bare skin. No bruises except the ones he'd put there (thumbprint below his ribs on the left side). He unfastened Sherlock's trousers and kept looking.

(Bruises on Sherlock's hip as well, old and yellow. Ugly except that Sherlock fingered them, idly, sometimes, and looked at John and smiled.) No. No new marks. John stripped Sherlock's socks off as well and Sherlock curled into his embrace. "Yes," Sherlock said. "There he goes. His hands. His sticky hands."

John had a hunch, which was the sort of thing he was learning to listen to. He rang Dimmock. "Sherlock keeps talking about hands. I think he was drugged via skin contact."

"Like a needle on a ring, or some sort of patch? That sounds... familiar." Dimmock faded, paused, came back: "I'll look into that. Are you lot all right?"

"Tai is happy, Sherlock is miserable, I'll have a long night."

"Good luck," Dimmock said, and hung up.

John kissed Sherlock's temple. "Your clothes are disguising your purity of essence," Sherlock said. So John stripped off, which made things very awkward when Sherlock took off from the bed and pelted through the flat to bang on Mrs. Hudson's door.

"Sorry. He's hallucinating," John told her as he attempted to hide behind Sherlock. He didn't want to startle her with too many swinging cocks.

"Are you all right? It's all gone very wrong! Very very wrong!" Sherlock yelled. "Eighty-eight, eighty-seven, ninety-two, ninety-three, yet the sum is not three sixty! It's not! It's altering itself!" He held onto the door frame and stared down at Mrs. Hudson.

Mrs. Hudson (lavender quilted dressing gown, lavender slippers, hair loose) patted Sherlock's cheek. "Yes, dear, everything's fine."

"Oh. Your composure is remarkable in these trying times," Sherlock said. He sounded abruptly calm.

"I was evacuated from London in the Blitz, love. It takes a bit more than maths to rattle me. You go up with John before you catch your death."

"Yes, of course. John isn't bothered at all. Yes." Sherlock took John's hand. "I find... is there a mystery, John? Is there a problem to solve?"

John pulled him toward the stairs. "It's solved. This is just the aftermath. You can't remember the solution because you're tired."

"I should sleep, then." Sherlock sighed hugely. "John. Bodies are terrible."

"I can't agree with you, duckie," Mrs. Hudson called. Ogling their arses. John shot her a look, but she just beamed. John climbed the stairs with Sherlock slowly.

*

Sherlock slept after checking on Mrs. Hudson. Tai danced herself into exhaustion around four in the morning and curled up in the stair landing. John carried her up over his shoulder and she didn't even stir.

He woke them up gently with a pot of tea on a tray by the bed. Sherlock was conscious, but browned out, petting Tai's hair. She curled into Sherlock's body and he didn't push her away. "How does one determine reality?" Sherlock asked.

"Ella says reality is the state you find yourself in when you catch your breath." John sat cross-legged on the bed.

"I'm normally quite sure. I never did hallucinogens; I had no interest in the false workings of the mind, except insofar as they relate to the true workings of society. I suppose--" Sherlock pinched himself. "That's traditional. Shall we declare this real, and continue from here?"

"How are the angles?" John asked.

"Oh," Sherlock said, catching his lip between his teeth. His eyes darted over the window frame. "Yes. They add up nicely."

"Mrs. Hudson saw us starkers."

"Not the first time. For me."

"We're fine, then," John said.

"Mrs. Hudson is a silver fox," Tai said.

"Have at her, pet," John said.

*

"The grandson stole the watch as a gift for his drugs connection," Sherlock said.

"I know," John said. "Dimmock got him already. He's being charged with assault on you two as well as theft, cocaine dealing, and money laundering. Why were you both confronting him?"

"Sherlock couldn't get in the club solo," Tai said.

"The bouncer said push off, it wasn't a gay bar. Tai was just around the corner, and that seemed more expeditious than climbing through a window."

"Next time, use the window," John said. "Wait--why didn't you just bribe him?"

"Not enough cash."

"And the cash machine was further than the innocent civilian?"

Sherlock grimaced and sipped his tea.

"Oi," Tai said. "I can solve crime if I want to."

*

to do:
orgasm
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage/intercrural
fellatio [receiving and performing]
cunnilingus
anilingus
hand job [receiving and performing]
anal sex, manual [receiving]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]

John knew Sherlock's handwriting like his own, at this point. It still--it took him a minute. "Tai," he said, finally, and he showed her the list.

"Oh, bless!" Tai said.

Sherlock looked up from the sofa. "What?"

"Sherlock!" Tai stood, walked over, kissed him on the nose.

"What," Sherlock growled.

"I just need to add a few things," John said. He wrote:
wobbly H
double penetration
golden shower
pegging

By this time, Sherlock wore a ghastly scowl.

"Oh, pet, you are so cute," Tai said, and wrote:
snowball
felching
blumpkin
shrimping
pearl necklace
glass bottom boat
hot lunch
alligator roll
The Shocker
Spiderman
rusty trombone
red wings

--which was all she managed before Sherlock snatched the paper away. He looked at the paper. "These are nonsense words," Sherlock said.

"No, they're not. Try the Urban Dictionary," Tai said.

Sherlock did. He cast horrified gazes on both of them. "Why--why?"

Tai grinned. John giggled at the look on Sherlock's face, the outrage.

"Hygiene!" Sherlock barked, and he started crossing things out with a wide black marker.

*

to do:
orgasm
stimulate orgasm in partner
frottage/intercrural
fellatio [receiving and performing]
cunnilingus
anilingus
hand job [receiving and performing]
anal sex, manual [receiving]
anal sex, genital [receiving and performing]
wobbly H
alligator roll
rusty trombone
red wings

*

Chapter Text

*

The Case of the Manky Milk.

One of those in and out jobbies. Called in by the wife, her husband has been poisoned. Who did it? Sherlock took one look around and knew. Personal assistant tired of the husband slapping her arse, poisoned his daily tea bit by bit until he died.

Sad note: The personal assistant did herself in. Kids, if something like this is happening to you, CALL THE POLICE. FIND ANOTHER JOB. CALL US. Don't kill your boss and yourself. It's not worth it.

The girl's mum baked us a cake for working out what happened to her baby. I just wish we'd been there sooner.

sallydonovan: A fucking men. So many people go to the wall for people I wouldn't give my right phone number.

Sherlock Holmes: Honestly, John, I wish you'd pay attention. I didn't just look around; I tested everything in the environment for toxins, and once I'd found the carrier, worked out who administered it.

Sgt. Leah Gordon: Dr. Watson I'm pretty sure you're the right one email me ok

*

Leah stood out in a crowd. She was missing an arm, for one, sporting a metal claw instead, and missing an ear, with bloody great scars reaching up the left side of her head above her collar. John looked at her and could see the entry point where he'd reached into her stump to clamp her artery. He'd lain on top of her to keep her still and safe; sucked shrapnel from her eyelid and saved her sight.

He sat down; had to take a moment. "Hi," he said.

She grinned. "That hard to look at me?"

"Sorry, I'm being rude, I just--when I look at you I'm there, not here," John said.

"Shellshock," she said. "I like the old terms. I have a bit."

"I have a lot." He could finally meet her eyes. "Let me see how you healed."

Leah swivelled on her stool, showed him the scars. "They're making me a new ear next. Do more scar reduction, et cetera. I don't mind. Chicks dig scars," she said, grinning and punching his arm.

"Do they really? Mine doesn't show unless I'm already undressed," John said, gesturing to his shoulder.

"Excuse me. Are you both soldiers?" the barman asked.

"Sergeant Gordon, Captain Watson, late of Her Majesty's Army," Leah said proudly.

"On the house, both of you, all night," the barman said, clapping both their shoulders. "Not enough respect these days for our brave soldiers." He poured them both a pint.

"Thank you," John said.

"Cheers," Leah said. They both raised their glasses and drank.

"What have you been up to?" John asked her.

"Living with mum." She rolled her eyes. "Physical therapy. They're fitting me with one of those new robot arms soon, so that should be brilliant. Just trying to work out what to do with myself. I always wanted to be army, ever since I was a kid, so now I have to get a new goal, right?"

John nodded.

"I thought about fire fighter, but you have to be able to carry people. Police, same."

"Private security," John suggested.

"Don't all ex-soldiers do that?"

"Because we're bloody good at it. Bouncer."

Leah grinned. "Bouncer in a lezzer bar? Kid in a sweet shop, mate."

"There's worse things." John grinned back.

"I know, you dog. Remember when you stole that girl from me in Kuwait? I was going to call you out for that, but Bill talked me down."

"Oh, Bill! He went home and married Letitia. They have the most gorgeous little girl," John said, and told her all about the baby.

One pint turned into six. After a good long chat, John realized 1) it was time to go home and 2) he was far too drunk. And, in fact, Leah was lying on the bar. Fuck. He took out his phone.

Sherlock? No. He'd been drunk all over Sherlock once already. He rang Tai. "Hi, pet," he said.

"Hi, pet. You sound drunk."

"I am drunk. Help."

"Where are you?"

"Um." John waved for the bartender. "Where am I?"

The barman grinned and took the phone. He told Tai the address and handed the phone back to John. "That's where," John said. "Also my friend is with me. My lesbian friend. I am not cheating on you; she is a lesbian." He wanted to make the point clear.

"Wow. You are drunk. I'll get a cab, love, and be over in a bit."

"You are the best. The very best."

John put his head down.

*

Woke up at home. Hangover, not too bad. Sherlock reading in bed beside him. "Don't throw up on me," Sherlock said.

"I'm not," John said. He leaned over and kissed Sherlock on the cheek.

"Your friend needs to go home. She chased me out of the sitting room. She's far too loud." Sherlock glared at him.

"Leah? She's a gas," John said.

"I don't approve."

"Noted," John said. He got out of bed, found his dressing gown.

Downstairs, smell of bacon, oh, gorgeous. "Morning," John said. Leah and Tai were sitting and chatting in the kitchen.

"Morning. Sit down, I'll fix you some toast," Tai said. Leah waved. She looked a bit rough, not too bad. She was dressed in John's pyjamas.

"I don't deserve you." John kissed her cheek.

Tai smiled. "You're cute when you're drunk. I put Leah in Sherlock's bed and your kit; Sherlock didn't help, so I hope that was right."

"Definitely. Sherlock hasn't slept in his bed since last April."

"So you're sleeping with her AND him? What, you can't make up your mind?" Leah said.

"Oi! Be respectful of sexual diversity," John said, and Leah laughed and punched his arm.

"Tai was telling me about the lesbian scene. I've been out for so long my gash has closed up," Leah said. "I'm like a virgin again."

John shook his head. "Doubt that. You stuffed so many slappers up there before we deployed, I'm surprised you're not pissing fake fingernails."

Leah leaned back and howled with laughter, pounding her fist on the table.

John grinned. Old times; and then the bacon spat in the pan and he ducked under the table for cover, heart racing, reaching for his gun. Stink of burning flesh.

"John, mate, easy," Leah said.

"John, oh my god, what's wrong?" Tai said.

John couldn't do it. Smell of hot fat, like cautery, like explosions ripping through flesh. "I just, uh. Okay?" And stumbled to the bathroom.

Turned on the shower. Took his clothes off. Sat in the tub until he stopped shaking.

He wasn't better. What was he meant to do, more than what he was doing? He wanted to leave the fucking war behind.

The shower ran cold, shocking him up and out of the tub. He shut the water off. Steadied his breath. Had to just be normal.

Walked out of the bathroom, back to the kitchen. Tried to think of a good explanation, but Tai handed him a cup of coffee first. "Thank you," he said.

"PTSD?" Leah asked.

John nodded.

"Brains are fucking arseholes, mate," she said.

John nodded, both eyebrows raised in emphasis.

He ate some toast with butter in safety. Tai and Leah talked about lesbian goings-on some more. John always forgot that Tai was a proper bisexual, not dipping a toe like himself. He only liked Sherlock; he didn't look at other men. Tai, though, had dived into nearly as much muff as he had (nearly. She was younger, after all).

"Is she gone?" Sherlock's voice echoed down the stairs.

John stood, yelled back up: "No, you great poof! You'll have to be polite for once!"

"Fuck off! I'm pissing out the window!"

John laughed, but knew he meant it. He closed the kitchen window. "He doesn't have the manners God gave an alley cat," he told Leah. "If he didn't give such phenomenal head I'd give him the push." And sure enough, liquid rained past the window, spattering against the alley wall. "You dirty sod!" John yelled up the stairs. At least he'd pissed out the alley side of the flat, instead of the street side. Could have been worse.

"You love him," Tai said, and kissed the top of his head as he sat back down. "You loved him even before I taught him to suck cock."

"Yeah, I suppose," John said. "Leah, what did you do to him? I've never seen anyone tree him before."

Leah shrugged. "Said good morning."

"And accidentally flashed him," Tai said.

"Oh, right."

"I think breasts make Sherlock uncomfortable," Tai said. "Good thing I'm so flat."

John smiled. "Flash him again. It'll do him good."

*

To do:

1. Get out of Afghanistan.
2. Get out of Afghanistan.
3. Get out of Afghanistan.
4. Get out of Afghanistan.
5. GET OUT OF FUCKING AFGHANISTAN.

Can I help?--SH

No--JW

*

"You want me to come to a party?" Sherlock asked.

"My friend Sasha does a blowout Halloween bash and I have a smashing idea for a three-person costume," Tai said.

"And why weren't we invited last year?" John asked.

"Because I didn't know her then."

"You're inviting me to a party?" Sherlock said, sounding incredulous.

"No, Sasha is inviting me and my two boyfriends."

"People don't invite me to parties. Ban me, yes." There was a suspicious look on his face.

"So don't cause any fights and you'll be invited to more," Tai said. "Check it out: Bill, Eric, and Sookie from True Blood."

"Oh, they had that magazine cover, with the--" John demonstrated, leaning back with his knee in the air.

"Don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about," Sherlock said.

"You get to be a sexy Viking vampire," Tai said. "I'm a psychic waitress. And John is a noble American vampire."

Sherlock looked at her.

"It'll be fun," she said.

"You have the eyes for it," John said.

"Ah. Two against one. I knew this relationship was a bad idea."

"Be glad I'm not suggesting the 'Alejandro' video costumes. It would be bloody appropriate, but I don't think you lads would be up for spending the night in nothing but black biker shorts and bowl cuts."

"Sherlock," John said, leaning over the table. "You get to make and wear a fantastic disguise for an entire night, and everyone will admire it and tell you how amazing it is."

Sherlock raised his eyebrows.

*

They went shopping for costume pieces. John needed a nice button-down shirt, to be daubed with fake blood, and some nice trousers likewise. Sherlock needed a Fangtasia t-shirt (ordered online), jeans, and--

Sherlock hugged the leather coat. "I want it," he sighed.

"It's still locked to the rack--ah, yes," John said, holding his wallet up as the shop attendant came over. "Sherlock, don't have sex with it before we pay for it."

The shop attendant grinned, no doubt seeing images of his commission dancing in his eyes. It wasn't a cheap coat. But what the hell; Sherlock had the money.

"Wow," Tai said. "I didn't think Sherlock was a leather man."

The attendant (Brian, according to his name tag) unlocked the coat and Sherlock barely got the hanger out before slipping it on. "Oh, love, you look divine," Brian said.

Sherlock turned up the collar and preened in the mirror. "I want you to fuck me wearing nothing but this coat," he said. Brian grinned wider.

"At least let's get the security tags off," John said, towing Sherlock to the cash register.

Tai hugged Sherlock from behind. "Oh, this smells good," she said.

"Want to include some leather cleaner?" Brian asked.

"I think we'd better," John said.

*

Sherlock took the coat off just long enough for John to clip the tags out and for Sherlock to take off his clothes. Tai hugged Sherlock, stroking his naked sides, squeezing his backside. "John," she said, "get the BIG toolbox." Sherlock kissed her.

The big toolbox was very big indeed. John carried it with both hands, plonked it down on the coffee table with a crash. He pulled the lace curtains closed and the door closed as well. Meanwhile, Tai had Sherlock on his back on the sofa, hand in his hair, kissing his throat. His legs were wrapped around hers; his feet stroked her calves.

"What's the plan, General?" John asked.

"Fuck me," Sherlock said.

"How?"

"Not up the arse, it's too much work. Intercrural. Do that again," he said to Tai. Tai licked his throat and Sherlock closed his eyes and shivered.

"Remind me what intercrural means?" John asked.

"Between the thighs," Tai answered. "Oscar Wilde's favourite position."

"Can't beat the celebrity endorsement." John stroked Sherlock's ankle. He was still shaving his legs. John thought surely he'd have gotten bored by now, but apparently it felt good enough to be worth the trouble. Sherlock reached out and grabbed John's shirt with his toes.

John kissed Sherlock's ankle, knelt on the floor and kissed up his leg, ended with a sucking kiss to the crease of his hip. "Face up or face down?" Tai asked.

"Oh, face up. How could I do without seeing John?"

John looked up and smiled. Sherlock smiled back, tugged on John's ear; John moved up and kissed him. Kept kissing him (delicious) until he sighed and stiffened; John raised his head and saw Tai wrapping a loop of rope around Sherlock's feet. She'd tied his legs together tightly from knee to ankle. "Mm, very nice," John said, tracing his hand down Sherlock's muscled stomach, avoiding his cock, squeezing his fingers between Sherlock's thighs. "Oh, I see. Oh, very nice," and he stood and took off his trousers. Left his shirt on. It was the worn blue cotton one Sherlock liked.

Tai squeezed lube between Sherlock's thighs; John kissed her thank you. "Oh, I'm next," she said. "Get on him."

He did. Embraced Sherlock's stomach outside the coat, inhaled the leather (delicious, even better mixed with Sherlock's skin, no wonder Sherlock took to the coat so fast, such acute senses), pressed between Sherlock's thighs (perfectly smooth); hard to find the angle, but when he did, oh. Oh. He looked up at Sherlock; Sherlock's head rested on the pillow at the arm of the sofa, so that he could watch. Watching John's arse wag; well, he seemed to like the sight, bless him.

Skin like wet silk. Almost cool against his blood-hot cock. Sherlock's cock semi-hard, Sherlock's hands on his shoulders, stroking and pulling. Heartbeat under his ear, quick from all the nicotine and caffeine he pumped into his system. John nosed his way to skin and kissed his belly.

He could fuck with abandon this way. No possible chance of hurting Sherlock. He could let go--he could be wild. So he was, panting into Sherlock's smooth skin.

Nearly there and then hands on his arse, Tai's hands, guiding him. John laughed against Sherlock's skin. "Hold still," Tai said, and then she pulled him backwards (new sensation, entirely new, his cock moving sideways rather than thrusting), and then she pushed him forwards, right up to Sherlock's arse, and John came between both his lovers. Favourite place to be these days.

John sighed. "Right, that's going in rotation." He knelt up, taking the pressure off Sherlock's cock. Sherlock closed his eyes, smiling wordlessly.

He smelled so good John kissed him, stroked his chest, and Sherlock pulled him in, kissing him hard. Wanting him. John obliged. He knelt on the sofa, wedged himself behind Sherlock, and kept kissing him.

"Sherlock," Tai said. "You left something off your list," she said.

John looked at her, stroking Sherlock's nipple, listened to Sherlock inhale. "I didn't think I wanted to do it," Sherlock said.

"Do you?"

He paused, then nodded. Tai unwrapped a condom and slipped it on, following it with his cock ring, so that he was hard enough for penetration. Mounted him. Rode him. "Different," Sherlock murmured. His eyes were dark and dilated.

"Beautiful," John said. Sherlock drew his knees up, cradling her.

Tai smiled, rubbed her clit; John offered his hand instead, stroked her, felt Sherlock's cock sliding through his fingers. She curled over them both and came with a yell.

Which left Sherlock, dizzy with feeling, hard as stone, cradled sticky between them. John kissed Sherlock's throat and Tai stroked his stomach. Sherlock let his breath out. He unbuckled the cock ring himself and some of the furious colour left his prick.

"Good?" John asked.

"Delicious," Sherlock said. He pressed his cock down flat against his stomach, held his nose to the leather, and breathed. "Touch me some more."

*

Things for Sherlock to work on:
1. Labelling experiments (a note saying "experiment" is enough, promise).
2. Being polite to my friends.
3. Not losing the bills before I pay them.

Sherlock Holmes: Things for John to work on: 1. Double coin knot 2. Fool's cuff 3. Brewing decent coffee.

John Watson: Sherlock, you realize my blog is public, right?

Sherlock Holmes: Yes. Why?

Harry Watson: John, you kinky bastard!!!!!

John Watson: ....that's why.

[entry deleted]

*

Chapter Text

*

Still no case. John returned with the shopping. Bread. Milk. Eggs. Passed on the cricket bat, which might have been a mistake, given that Sherlock's mood was no better for John's absence.

Sherlock was bouncing a ball against the ceiling with sharp precision. "Stop vibrating the floorboards," Sherlock said.

"No," John said, and Sherlock threw the ball at him. Through the kitchen window. Smash.

Fuck Sherlock. He went upstairs. Behind him, Sherlock turned off the lights.

Bloody hell, his computer was downstairs. He considered leaving it, but there was nothing to do upstairs then. He considered leaving the flat. He couldn't go around to Tai's, not with all her flatmates, not without an invitation. He considered going to a pub and getting hammered, but no; then in the morning, Sherlock would be even worse, and he'd be hung over. Done that. Not much fun.

So he returned downstairs to fetch his computer. The flat was grey-lit by the street light outside. He thought he saw it on the desk.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt Sherlock's hands on him. "Dammit! You nearly got yourself punched," he muttered.

But Sherlock just unbuttoned John's jeans. Well, all right, then. John started to turn around, but Sherlock tugged his jeans firmly downward. All right. John leaned on his elbows on the desk. Sherlock took his arse in both hands and massaged roughly, and John felt a touch on his back, through the shirt, a kiss or a rub of Sherlock's nose. John had sweated through the back of his shirt, which Sherlock always enjoyed.

And John felt latex gloves on Sherlock's hands. Well, well, well. John put his head on his crossed arms and made himself comfortable.

Sherlock pulled up John's shirt. He kissed John's spine with an open mouth, licking down his lower back to his bum, and then thumbs, slipping into his body, pressing on the places that felt best. "Ohh," John said to the desk.

He groaned again when Sherlock licked and then bit his inner thigh. Sherlock's mouth darted down to the back of his knee and up his leg again, and all the while stroking him inside, filling him with shivery heat. Sherlock's mouth returned to his lower back. He was going to fuck him, John thought, but then, Sherlock took his hands away and put hi mouth where his hands had been.

John cursed, feeling Sherlock licking him, kissing him, some teeth, and how had he figured this out? But then he thought of Tai teaching Sherlock the art of cunnilingus and there you had it. The genius applying new skills.

And John loved it. He so loved it. He was vocal in his appreciation--oh, hell, the windows were open. He caught a flicker of reflection off the glass. Well, the neighbours would know they made up as thoroughly as they fought, then. "Oh, dammit, Sherlock, you're gorgeous," John gasped into the desk. Sherlock responded by gnawing on his arse cheek. Sherlock reached up between John's legs and caressed his cock, clumsily at first and then with more finesse. John laughed as he identified a rusty trombone. Thank you, Tai. He'd thought Sherlock had gotten some good ideas off that list.

Sherlock gained confidence fast. John moaned freely to let him know when he was doing something right. Light, harder, deeper, shallower thrust of tongue, and then a twisting grasp of his foreskin that had him coming, legs shaking, onto the floor. His knees buckled; he nearly fell. Sherlock pushed him back upright.

"You're very good at sex for a man who doesn't like it," John muttered, head on the desk, throbbing arse in the air.

"I like making you come," Sherlock said, and he kissed John's lower back again.

Then ran for the bathroom. Ha. John didn't guess there would be a repeat performance.

When he could walk, he joined Sherlock in the bathroom, where Sherlock was brushing his teeth. He kissed Sherlock's shoulder. "Come up when you're done and I'll give you a massage or something," John said, and wet a flannel to clean up his semen from the floor.

Sherlock did come up, very minty, very clean, and John kissed him on the mouth, because fair was fair. Then he rubbed the crackle out of Sherlock's neck and back.

Then he discovered in the morning that Sherlock was apologizing for breaking open his computer and reducing it to its component parts, so that was another row.

"I'll replace it," Sherlock said, and picked up a magazine like that was the end of it. "I transferred all the data off your hard drive before I opened it."

"My personal data, from my personal computer--Sherlock! You could at least pretend to be ashamed."

"I'm not."

"I put up with so much--"

"No; you store it up into outbursts like this. I apologized for the inconvenience. You can take my card down to the shop and get a better one. End of conversation."

"Point one--sex is not an apology! You can't buy me off like a whore!" He expected Sherlock to correct his phraseology, but Sherlock just opened his magazine and sat in the leather chair. "Point the second--I didn't want another computer. I didn't need one until you broke it! I was fine!"

"Good morning, Tai," Sherlock said without looking up. "Don't mind John. He'll shout himself out in a minute."

John hadn't even heard her come in. "Okay," Tai said, setting her handbag by the door.

"Shout myself out? I'm not the wind, Sherlock," John said. "When I speak I want to be heard."

"Then why don't you say something interesting?"

"If I repeat myself, it's to hammer through your thick fucking skull!"

"I hear with my ears, John. With that grasp of anatomy, it's no wonder you can't find a job."

Which shut John up. He hadn't worked in over a month. His pension covered his half of the rent with not much left over. The reason he had food on his plate, tea in his cup, and petrol in his bike was because he had Sherlock's bank card in his wallet.

Sherlock didn't look up. "I want coffee today, not tea. There's a nasty taste in my mouth."

Because it didn't matter that Sherlock licking out John's arse wasn't John's idea; that they were having sex at all was John's fault. John found the cafetiere, washed it, ground the beans, boiled the water, a pain in his stomach from the things he wasn't saying.

"What happened?" Tai asked. She leaned in the doorway between the kitchen and sitting room, back up against the frame.

"Sherlock broke my computer for fun." Statement of fact. Bitter tone.

"And I'm buying him a new one, and I already made up to him for the inconvenience."

"Sex is not an apology. Sex is sex. Apologies are apologies." John leaned on the counter, hands clenched into fists.

"I won't apologize for what I am. You know what I am. You knew before I did. You told me I was fine. Did you forget already?" Sherlock snapped the magazine down. "I don't know where you'd be if I hadn't taken you in like a stray dog."

"I know where you would be. Dead. I can fix that if you'd like. Be like we'd never met," John said, turning. His sleeve caught a mug and it smashed on the floor.

The noise startled Tai upright. There was an awful look on her face. Shit. He shouldn't fight in front of her. Why did he let Sherlock wind him up? He took a deep breath, started to try to defuse, but she had snatched up her bag and was already bounding down the stairs.

"Tai!" He followed her. "Wait, please!"

"Safeword," she said, hand on the door. John froze on the stairs; what did that even mean in this context? "Let me leave."

John nodded, too floored to argue. He sat on the stair. She left.

He kept sitting there. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Above, Sherlock took up the violin, playing something beautiful, complicated, and angry.

Fuck.

Fuck.

John climbed the stairs. Sherlock paused when he saw him. "Excellent tactics," Sherlock said. "Two with one blow."

John ached as if his temper was a physical creature and he'd been worried by its huge, blunt teeth. He didn't answer, just waited for Sherlock to elaborate.

"She has a history of abuse. Her mid-face has been reconstructed and her front teeth are false. The metal framework is clearly palpable, and the surgical scars are visible under her nose and inside her mouth. When I asked her about it, she told me her ex-husband kicked her in the face."

"And you didn't tell me?"

Sherlock snorted and resumed playing. "So it's just you, me, and your repellent physical urges once again. I'll be up later for your daily milking. Be naked." He turned away.

Part of John wanted to punch Sherlock until every breath was a gurgle of blood. From the set of Sherlock's shoulders, that's what he wanted; he was watching John in the polished silver tray on the bookshelf. Physical blows. The ultimate boredom-killer.

But the rest of John, the voting majority, took him upstairs and into his bedroom, where he called his therapist. "Emergency," he told the answering service.

Ella called back within five minutes. John felt hot, tight, chained. He wondered if this was the time he was finally going to cry.

It was.

*

Chapter Text

*

He lay on his bed and stared at the wall numbly for a while. His face felt hot and swollen. Minutes or hours later, Sherlock tapped on the door. "Please," he said.

"It's not locked," John said. His voice sounded strangled to himself.

Sherlock opened the door. He entered stiffly and sat in the chair. "I hurt you," he said. He held his shoulders stiffly hunched in.

"You did."

"So that's what happens if I abuse you," Sherlock muttered. "I don't like it. I won't do it again."

John laughed mirthlessly. "That's fine, then." He turned to face the wall again.

"You called your therapist. I could hear you crying." Sherlock's voice broke on the last word.

"Do you know why? Can you deduce it?"

"No..."

"Liar," John whispered.

"I'm all muddled when it comes to you."

John sat up. He wiped his nose on his wrist and glared at Sherlock. "Do you know what I dream when I wake up shouting?"

"Are those words? I was never sure."

"Sharmanda," John said. "It means 'I'm sorry.'"

"Apology--to someone you shot in the war."

"Yes."

"But--not a combatant? Not a threat? Or it wouldn't haunt you."

"Good to see that giant brain ticking over," John said. "But she was a threat. She shot me back."

"She."

"An Afghan soldier's mother. She held her boy in her arms. She was barely older than me. Her son was barely more than a child. He was killed in action. I stumbled over a hidden cellar and saw her holding her boy in her arms and she pointed his gun at me and I shot her in the head, Sherlock!" John wiped his nose again. Once the feeling finally returned, it wouldn't stop. His chest ached the way his leg used to. Deferred pain. He'd finally figured it out. Fucking hysterical.

"Oh." Sherlock knotted his eyebrows.

"And you don't comprehend how my threatening violence against you in front of our girlfriend might trigger bad feeling in me? That you might make me terrified of myself and what I know I'm capable of?"

Sherlock jerked his head. Half a shake. Sherlock the idiot. John felt his frustration show through on his face and Sherlock said: "I trust you."

"I don't."

"But I do, and I'm right."

"So you rule my heart?"

"Don't I? Isn't that my privilege as a lover?"

"God, you idiot," John sighed. "And I've frightened Tai away."

"Can I do anything?" Sherlock said, very softly. John sighed; Sherlock was trying, after all. Trying so hard. He wiggled his fingers: Come here. And Sherlock did, crawling onto the bed beside him, taking his face between his hands, kissing him open mouthed, over and over.

"It's fine. We don't need Tai any more," Sherlock said. "We've worked out a sexual regime satisfactory to us both. We're good together."

John held him back with both hands. "What?"

"We don't need her. I don't want her. I'm your primary. All you need is me."

"Sherlock," John said. He paused, took a deep breath, did not scream. "No."

Sherlock stared at him, wide-eyed. "But she's superfluous to requirements."

John held his temper with both hands. He closed his eyes. When he opened them, the look on Sherlock's face suggested he was starting to understand the scope of his fuckups.

"I'm taking a walk."

He was too angry to go anywhere, or even to think. He just walked, straight down Baker Street, fists clenched in his pockets, so uselessly furious; he still felt the trapped words in his chest and stomach. Not English words. Pure anger, the kind of thing that came out in a scream or a roar. Not tears, not any more.

He breathed as he walked. Let the car exhaust sedate him. Turned down Marylebone Street, moved without seeing.

The rage subsided. He was human again. He was John.

He called Tai. "Hi," she said.

"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"I called my therapist," John said. "I didn't hit Sherlock. I don't know about--didn't know what happened to you, he didn't tell me before, but it doesn't matter, I shouldn't--"

"No," she said.

He stopped in an alley, took a deep, rancid breath. He stared at the old brick, the graffiti, the evil-eyed pigeon eating a chip behind an old newspaper. He squatted down and rested his elbows on his knees, head on his fist, phone to his ear. Man in crisis talking to his girlfriend, as natural a part of the London cityscape as the skip or the cabs. Nobody looking at him would know he was actually about as ordinary as a rabid hyena. "This is all mad," John said. "I was never like this, I used to be so boring."

"Before Sherlock?"

"Before Afghanistan. I..." He stood and turned away from the street, down toward the skip. Smelled the garbage, stifling and tactile, grabbing at his throat. "I broke," he said finally. "Part of me shattered and fell away. I'm still figuring out what's left."

"Yeah, I know all about that," she said. "What do you want out of this, John? From me and from Sherlock?"

"Complicated question."

"Simple question, complicated answer," she said.

"Right," John said. "God, what I want? I want you. We get on."

"Is that enough?"

"Well, how many people do I get on with? I'm not this honest with anyone but you and my therapist. Not even Sherlock. Not my sister. Mum and Dad are dead. But you--you're my girl. Sherlock is Sherlock. God knows I love him but he's like a whirlpool into madness."

"You frightened me," Tai said. "Sherlock frightens me sometimes, the way he is toward you, but I never minded because you were there. But now you."

John turned, saw Sherlock across the street, watching him over the passing cars. "I can't promise to watch my mouth. I can't promise not to shout. But I can promise--"

"John," Tai said. "Promises don't mean anything. My ex-husband promised me the moon. I'll judge you by your actions."

"Right."

Pause. The pigeon was joined by a friend. They both stared at him with brash red eyes.

"We're not romantic," Tai said. "You and Sherlock are but you and I aren't. We're friends."

"Yeah," John said. She was right. Of course she was right. "Yes. I didn't want to say."

"It's better that way. I'd rather have a friend than a sweetheart. Friends last."

John sighed in relief. "Yes."

"But don't threaten Sherlock, John," Tai said. "It's upsetting."

"I spent an hour on the phone with my shrink. Sherlock knows my buttons and presses them because he's bored. I'm trying to have--fewer buttons," John concluded lamely. "Do you know what I'm saying?"

"Yes, pet."

A third pigeon joined the two behind the skip. They all stared. John moved away.

"I need a day," Tai said.

"Took the words right out of my mouth."

"Unless you and Sherlock need a referee."

"No. I can cope with him."

"I'll come by tomorrow. Maybe with scones."

"You're an angel," John said, and Tai hung up.

John turned down a side street, not seeing which one. Sherlock followed him on the other side of the road, a few blocks, a half a mile, a mile, in a wide circle around their flat.

Until John crossed the street and stopped, facing Sherlock. Sherlock stopped also, unsure of himself. God. John made Sherlock unsure of himself. He could shred Sherlock if he wanted to. Sherlock had given him this power. John took out his phone and texted "come here." Sherlock looked at his phone and walked the half a block to John.

Didn't speak. John just looked at him, willed him to see: How tired he was, how broken, how worn; how unequal to Sherlock he was, just at this moment, right now.

"I couldn't just sit there," Sherlock said. "I had to follow."

John nodded, waited.

"Mycroft trained his cat to come. I wasn't allowed fish. I picked them up from the bowl, I could never just watch."

John smiled slightly, picturing Sherlock as a child.

"I want to keep you and hold you and cage you," Sherlock said. "I know not to. I couldn't do such a thing without destroying what you are; what makes you so marvellous is that you can leave me and don't. The thought of you leaving terrifies me," Sherlock said, looking back in his eyes, swallowing. "There's only ever been you. Only you. You put this hole in me that feels physical--this entirely illogical--" Sherlock stopped, looking angry.

"There's a hole in your heart that can only be filled by me?" John suggested.

"What?"

"Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and mars?"

The penny dropped. "This is what all those ridiculous songs are about? Other people feel this way?"

"Yes," John said. He dropped his forehead on Sherlock's shoulder.

"Love is a burning thing," Sherlock muttered. "Damn it!"

"I like it when you're mad. I can't bear it when you're cruel. I know you can't help it; that's why I have Tai. An escape valve so that I don't hurt you back." John put his hand on Sherlock's shoulder. "You wanted to fight."

"No."

"You absolutely did. But I can't fight for fun. No Marquess of Queensbury rules. If I ever lay hands on you, I'll hurt you. Badly."

Sherlock's breath came short.

"God, you pervert," John said. He half-laughed.

"Yes."

John sighed, raised his head. Sherlock took his hand. They stood together on the pavement and nothing else existed in the world. John wouldn't say it, couldn't, so he kissed Sherlock's hand and mouthed it into his skin: I love you. I love you. I love you. You can hurt me because I love you, and I can hurt you just the same.

He knew Sherlock got the message when he pulled John into his arms and held him tight.

*

Sherlock was going through John's entire iTunes library, listening to snatches of the love songs and scowling. "I disgust myself," he muttered.

"What, because you're the same as everyone else?" John lay curled up on the sofa with his head in Sherlock's lap. He was exhausted.

"I should be exempt from any emotion that can be shared by birds, bees, and educated fleas."

John giggled. Sherlock stroked his arm and progressed to the Beatles.

His phone chirped; he had a text. "Get my phone, will you?" he asked Sherlock.

"Hmph." But Sherlock got John's phone from his pocket.

Tai: Mary's rugby pals all came around. I'm surrounded by muscular women. May turn me lesbian.
John: Sherlock has a nice frock upstairs.
Tai: But nothing is going to make you femme, pet.
John: Sherlock just discovered that all the love songs are about him.
Tai: OMG.
John: Love will tear him apart again.
John: He wants to hold my hand.
John: It's Friday, he's in love.
Tai: I'm not scared of you. I didn't mean that how it sounded.
John: I'm scared of me. That's why I see my shrink so regular.
John: Sherlock just pinched me for bad grammar.
Tai: You're not like my ex.
Tai: Be my friend and not my lover.

"Be my lover and not my friend," Sherlock said.

"Can't do both?"

"Can I have both?"

"Course you can," John said.

"Oh."

*

Favourite parts of your body:
Your long toes.
Your snub nose.
Your tongue.

Chapter Text

*

He couldn't keep his hands off Sherlock. One of those moods. They were waiting for Tai to come by and John just felt good, like nothing was wrong.

He slid his hand up Sherlock's trouser leg and tickled Sherlock's smooth ankle. "I'm reading my email," Sherlock said.

"Can't help it. Us sexual beasts are at the mercy of our hormones." John nuzzled Sherlock's shin.

Amusement lurked in Sherlock's eyes. "I'm busy," he said.

"You can multi-task."

"I'm using my hands and head both."

"And here I am down by your feet."

Sherlock broke into a grin. "If you can amuse yourself with my feet and no attention from me whatever, you should have said so months--"

John cut him off by unzipping his fly and pressing Sherlock's toes to his crotch. Sherlock huffed out a laugh. "Give us a wiggle," John said.

"I'm busy." But Sherlock wasn't looking at the computer.

John wiggled, since Sherlock wouldn't, freeing his hardening cock to press against Sherlock's soft instep. "You're tickling me," Sherlock said. He pulled back, but John had hold of his feet.

"You said I could have your feet," John said. He tickled the soles of Sherlock's feet with the head of his cock. Sherlock twitched--he was so sensitive--and giggled.

Sherlock drew his knees up and his computer snapped closed against his body. He wriggled, but John didn't let go. John pressed Sherlock's feet together and slid his cock through the gap of his insteps and Sherlock howled at the sight. Laughed himself right off the sofa.

John followed him. Sherlock's hips were wedged between sofa and table, but John's extra weight dropped them down to the carpet. John kissed him.

Then John tickled his ribs, which made Sherlock convulse so hard he cracked his knee on the underside of the coffee table. He yelped and wriggled harder.

"I'll kiss it better," John said. He fumbled at Sherlock's trouser buttons but was so clumsy with giggles that he just tickled Sherlock's stomach instead.

"Awk! John!" Sherlock grabbed him with his knees, pulling John flat against his body. John's cock poked him in the navel and they both cracked up again. "That's not an orifice," Sherlock managed, between spurts of laughter.

"I know! I'm a doctor!" John shook against Sherlock's shoulder. His stomach hurt. He tried to catch his breath, but Sherlock squeezed his bare bum and he was off again. Sherlock squirmed underneath him.

"I'm stuck!" Sherlock giggled. "Trapped by your giant cock! How do you cope?"

"It's retractable for everyday convenience," John stage whispered. Sherlock laughed himself into a case of the hiccups.

Which was when Tai walked in, of course, with both of them stuck between sofa and coffee table, John naked-arsed and Sherlock looking offended at every spasm of his diaphragm.

Tai offered John her hand but John just put his hand down against Sherlock's and kept giggling. "We're fine," he said. Sherlock hiccuped.

"Tai," Sherlock said. He hiccuped and continued, "Get him back for me." He handed Tai the soft rubber flogger.

"No!" John cried, but Tai was already swishing the tickling strands over his bum. Sherlock held onto him, laughing between hiccups. "Uncle!" John said.

Sherlock drew John's shirt up so that Tai had access to his heaving lower back. "That's not the safe word," Sherlock said into John's ear, and when John laughed until tears squeezed out of his eyes, he licked John's face clean.

And then hiccuped.

*

Later, Tai said, "Remember your safeword." But not to Sherlock. To John.

John frowned. Sherlock rubbed his naked stomach, then kissed him just above his navel.

Tai clasped his hands and Sherlock kissed down his belly. "What?" John asked.

"You never let me tie you up," Tai said.

"I don't like it."

"How do you know?" She pulled on his hands, rolling him onto his back. "What if I knelt on your hands?"

John frowned. Sherlock leaned his weight on John's thighs and nuzzled his pubic hair. "Can't I simply dislike something?" John asked.

"Not without trying it first." And she knelt on his hands.

"I'm fine," John said. Sherlock lipped his foreskin and John caught his breath. "Have you noticed that Sherlock loves cock?"

"Your cock," Sherlock murmured against his head. The click of the final K echoed against his tender skin. "You still have nightmares, John."

"You can't cure nightmares with sex," John said.

"Can we try?" Tai asked.

"We want to plumb your depths," Sherlock said.

"Christ," John said, and surrendered.

Best decision that week.

*

Chapter Text

*

Sherlock's hair was surprisingly long once flat-ironed. He and Tai had to use what looked like shellac to get it to stay straight, though. With that plus the blond spray dye--"I should have worn a wig," Sherlock said.

"And then halfway through the night, your hair pops out of the pins, your wig falls off, and you have bobby pin head," Tai said.

"Mm." Sherlock shook his head. His hair moved all in one piece.

"You look great when you don't do that."

John merely had to wear dark brown spray dye and avoid scratching his head. Button-down shirt, nice trousers, belt, nice shoes, fake blood all over, removable fangs in his mouth. He'd been practising slipping them in and out without dribbling. He didn't look much like Bill Compton, but standing next to Tai (hair dyed blond, white dress, no blood stains yet) and Sherlock (tight Fangtasia shirt, tight jeans, leather coat with semen stains carefully cleaned off), it worked.

They took the Tube to the party with a thousand other revellers. "That's strangely sinister," Tai said, pointing to a giant, fuzzy Hello Kitty. John laughed out loud at two men dressed as the tenth and eleventh Doctors pointing their sonic screwdrivers at each other. Sherlock pointed out a woman dressed as Hawking radiation.

Sasha was a tall, buxom woman in a Valkyrie outfit, complete with horned hat and fur boots. "AAA! You look great! Let me guess, you're John and you're Sherlock?" She guessed correctly; she hugged all three of them.

This was Tai's crowd. She immediately dived into groups, hugging and waving. "So--sorry, I'm not up on my terminology," Sasha said. "You three are a triad, or did I get it wrong?"

"Tai and I are both involved with John," Sherlock said.

"--because I am a lucky, lucky bastard," John said.

"How do you not claw each other's eyes out? I could never do that," Sasha said.

"When I get too bitchy, she ties me up and he beats me," Sherlock said. "Then equilibrium is restored."

She laughed. "Come on, drinks are this way. Do you drink... wine?"

John did take a glass of wine (part of the costume, Tai said) but Sherlock opted for Red Bull. "So this is a party? What do you do?"

"Talk. Dance, if you feel like it. Sit on the couch and snog if you get bored. Watch people."

"Mm. All right."

"I don't dance," John said.

"I had to learn to ballroom dance. I've never had cause to learn anything less formal."

"Lads! Pictures!" Tai emerged from the other side of the room and fetched them. They posed for half the room, both John and Sherlock going for Tai's throat, then Sherlock stooping and kissing John for a boy who asked please, PLEASE, oh my god, you're so hot together. He couldn't have been more than twenty. John felt rather tender toward him.

"Can you dance?" Sherlock asked Tai.

"Yes."

"I want to learn. I'm an excellent mimic," he said.

"Okay!"

Sherlock handed John his drink and Tai passed him her handbag. "Oh, so I'm the boyfriend," John said to nobody in particular. He tried to juggle soda, wine, and handbag without spilling any of them into each other.

"Hi," said an older woman dressed as Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer version; rowr). "I own Behind Closed Doors, I've heard all about you. Let me give you a hand with that."

"Oh, hi. You're Pauline?" John handed her the soda, hooked handbag over his elbow, transferred wine to his left hand, shook hands with her, and took the soda back. "I know, it seems strange we haven't met."

"I almost feel like we have. I see Tai chatting to Sherlock all the time between customers, and then of course you call; it wasn't until I saw you walk in that I realized we've never said hello."

"She loves her job," John said. First things first.

Pauline smiled. "And she's happy with you two. I don't really understand polyamory--"

"Oh, neither do I, believe me, and I'm right in the middle." John sipped his wine. He glanced over at Tai and Sherlock--she was teaching him to shake his arse, apparently; God, they were delicious--and said, "No, definitely a first for me."

"She mentioned something about you being Army?"

"Army doctor, retired due to injury."

"What happened?" A question with more than casual interest for her, from her tone.

"Bullet through the shoulder. Could have been worse," John said. "You have someone--?"

"My son is thinking about joining."

"Ah." John looked at the ceiling. "It'll show him what he's made of," he said. "Whether that's good or bad, well. I like the man I am now more than the man I was then. Other people disagree." (Like Moriarty, his brain contributed smugly.)

"And he could die."

"He could. But everyone dies; you have to judge what you believe in, what's worth it."

"Ah," Pauline said.

"But if you want me to come over and show him my scar, I will. If that puts him off, he's not up for it anyway," John said.

Pauline smiled. "Thanks. Well, that's a bit heavier than I really wanted to get into; isn't Sherlock lovely?"

"Gorgeous," John agreed, watching him dance with Tai. Sherlock was matching her move for move, not really grooving to the beat yet, but attracting appreciative looks.

"My husband is around here somewhere. Don't mention the shop unless you want to see a grown man blush."

John laughed.

"Nikul!" She raised her hand. A large, beardy Asian gent waved and came over. "This is John, he's Tai's boyfriend. Used to be in the army."

"Oh, hello. Our Jay is looking into that."

"Pauline mentioned," John said.

"How do you feel it's going over there?" Nikul asked.

"Haven't kept up." Oh, he had opinions, plenty of them, but none that he wanted to share. "I'm a GP now, anyway."

"And Sherlock--private detective, isn't it?" Pauline said.

"Consulting detective. I just do locum work, so I assist him with his cases as well."

"Goodness," Nikul said. "I'm a food safety inspector. Not nearly so exciting."

John grinned. "Appreciated, though. I do a lot of takeaway."

"So let me see--dressed as a zombie?" Nikul asked. "Is the handbag part of the costume?"

"The handbag is Tai's; she's just there with Sherlock. Vampire, I'm afraid."

"Zombies are very popular this year, though," Pauline said, scanning the crowd. She pointed out one, two, three.

Then Tai fell back onto a chair; Sherlock swooped over her. "Oh, hang on, I think that's my cue," John said. He put down his wine and Sherlock's Coke. They hadn't planned anything in particular, but, well.

Sherlock bared his fake teeth and bit Tai's neck. She swooned in ecstasy, knee around Sherlock's waist. "Oi!" John shouted. He ran across the room, wielding Tai's handbag, and gave Sherlock a damn good smacking with it.

Sherlock giggled--John could see it in the quiver of his shoulders--but hid the sound against Tai's throat. He pulled off, dripping fake blood over Tai's white dress, and turned to John; he grabbed John's hair, yanked John's head back, and drooled fake blood into John's mouth, ending with a kiss.

Tasted horrible. Didn't matter. Tai wrapped herself around him from the back; Sherlock, of course, was keeping the fake blood off his lovely new coat. John pulled away and grinned, swaying between his lovers. The rest of the party clapped. And hey! Sergeant Leah, dancing with Tai's flatmate Mary. Fantastic!

Sherlock drew his thumb across John's carotid. Tai jumped onto John's back and he caught her easily, automatically.

"I'm so glad I met you," Tai said.

"I'm glad he met you also," Sherlock said. "I'm having a good time."

*

[end]